124 Alden Street

Burial place of the “Lady in the Dunes.” [2012, Dunlap]

“Lady in the Dunes” (d1974). Without doubt the most poignant burial at St. Peter’s is that of a young woman whose body was found on the Back Shore in 1974. She remains nameless. Unclaimed. Unknown — after more than four decades. Forensic experts have been able to reconstruct her killing in dreadful detail. Theories come and go: She was an extra in Jaws. She was a girlfriend of the mobster Whitey Bulger. But no one can say for certain why she was attacked or by whom. As the years pass, she seems destined to remain the “Lady in the Dunes” for all time.

Her inscription reads simply: “Unidentified female body / found Race Point dunes / July 26, 1974.”

Here is the official story of the “Lady in the Dunes” (also known as the “Lady of the Dunes”) from the Provincetown Police Department:

“The victim was discovered in the dunes about a mile east of the Race Point Ranger Station on July 26, 1974. The cause of death was a blow to the head. The estimated date of death was from 10 days up to three weeks. The unidentified woman’s hands were missing, presumably removed by the killer so she could not be identified through fingerprints and her head was nearly severed from her body with an instrument similar to a military entrenching tool. The left side of her skull had been crushed. No weapon was found at the crime scene.

“Her nude body was discovered lying on a beach towel with her head resting on folded jeans. There was no sign of a struggle and the woman lay on half the towel, as if she’d been sharing it with a companion. The body was exhumed in 2000, in an attempt to confirm her identity. In May of 2010, a new composite was created using state of the art technology and computer analyses. The new facial reconstruction images [below] were created by forensic experts from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Smithsonian Institution.”

Provincetown detectives still hope to solve the case. They note in their bulletin that the victim’s dental charts and samples of her DNA are available. Just not her name.

Facial reconstructions created in 2010 by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. [Provincetown Police Department]

In memoriam

• Find a Grave Memorial No. 51635525.

¶ Last updated on 13 December 2021.

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