Warning: This article may be disturbing to some readers.
Provincetown, a New England seaside town, is well recognized as a hotspot for creatives and artists. Provincetown's outstanding beaches and vibrant galleries mean a lovely combination of inclusivity and beautiful weather, making it a great tourist destination for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The Unsolved Mystery Behind The Lady Of The Dunes
A visit to Saint Peter's Cemetery, a short walk from Commercial Street's busy line of eateries, exposes a dark secret hidden beneath this quiet oasis. The Lady of the Dunes, as she is called, is buried here.
Sandra Lee, the author of True Crime, was nine years old when she and her family went camping on the Provincetown dunes in the summer of 1974.
Lee claims she was out walking her dog on July 26 when she came upon what she subsequently described to Fox 25 as "at that point in my life, the single most gruesome sight I'd ever seen".
Sandra did not tell anybody about her finding because she was scared of what she had seen, and the authorities later found out about the body from other dog walkers.
Leslie Metcalfe, a 13-year-old girl who had been out with her family for a dog walk, was among the second group. Unexpectedly, one of their dogs smelled something and ran off, which forced Leslie to run after him. She came across a horrifying scene of bloodcurdling at that point.
Leslie, like Sandra before her, was confronted with one of the most horrific crime scenes possible. This same body of a naked, horribly decomposed lady lay face-down on a beach blanket, her skull entirely crushed on one side and partially separated.
Unfortunately, Leslie died in 1996, but during an interview with Cape Cod Times writer Mary Ann Bragg, her sister, Alyssa Metcalfe, was able to paint a similar picture to the horrible sight the family witnessed all those years ago.
Alyssa, who was out horse riding at the time of the discovery, told Bragg in 2019 on her true-crime podcast Lady of the Dunes:
"I remember, she said, when she first saw it, she thought it was a deer just because of the coloring. But then quickly realized, it wasn't the shape of a deer or maybe some limbs came into her line of vision before she had a clear view."
For at least ten days, and potentially up to three weeks, the body had been out in the scorching sun. It belonged to a young lady of athletic build, approximately 25 to 40, with 'long auburn or reddish-blond hair tied up into a ponytail and secured with a gold-sparkle band.
Her hands had been cut off in an apparent attempt by the killer to hide her identity, with multiple teeth also being pulled out. There were, however, some hints as to what the woman could have looked like when she was alive.
Despite the fact that her teeth were mostly damaged, it was apparent that she had had expensive 'New York style' dental treatment, which costs thousands of dollars.
Further examination revealed that the body had injuries in the skull – most probably the cause of death – which were inflicted by what seems to be a military entrenchment tool of some sort. She had also been sexually abused with a wooden block after her death.
Who Really Murdered The Lady Of The Dunes?
The woman's position, spread out on one half of the green towel, showed that she may have been asleep at the time of the murder and that she might have had company. Because of this, many people who are interested in the case assume she was murdered by someone she knew. Despite various ideas, however, the killer has not been found to this day.
Many people assume the woman was killed at the hands of James 'Whitey' Bulger, a notorious gangster who is infamous for removing his victims' hands and teeth. Bulger was seen with someone who matched her description close to the time when she was murdered, despite the lack of strong evidence linking him to the lady.
It is possible that Bulger kept this a secret until the end of his life. In 2018, when he was 89 years old, fellow prisoners at West Virginia's USP Hazelton pushed his wheelchair away from CCTV cameras before beating him to death and attempting to gouge out his eyes.
In 2004, convicted serial murderer Hadden Clark admitted to the murder, making Bulger not the only noteworthy suspect in the case.
Clark wrote in a letter to a friend that he had murdered a lady in Massachusetts, and he provided a sketch of a naked woman with her hands removed, as well as a map of the crime scene.
Clark, who is now serving two 30-year jail terms for unrelated murders, said at the time:
"I could've told the police her name, but after they beat the s**t out of me… I wasn't going to tell them s**t… What you are looking for is in my grandfather's garden."
But Clark suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, which made investigators skeptical of his alleged confession.
Hills' Spine-Chilling Theory About The Lady Of The Dunes
Each new Provincetown police chief brings renewed efforts to solve this complex case, but none have been successful. The body discovered in the sand dunes on that tragic summer day has never been given a name; it is simply known as the Lady of the Dunes.
Sadly, no relatives or friends have come forward to claim her body, and her grave is marked with the cold words, 'Unidentified Female Body Found Race Point Dunes July 26, 1974.'
Her body has been unearthed numerous times in an attempt to identify her and build new face reconstructions using advanced technology. Despite the efforts and despite investigators' reviewing thousands of missing person reports over the years, she remains a mystery to this day.
Some, however, think that millions of people have seen the Lady of the Dunes in her life without ever recognizing who they were looking at.
Author Joe Hill, son of horror writer Stephen King, published a blog article in 2015 that would permanently transform the way fans would watch their beloved summer classic, Jaws.
While watching Jaws, one of his all-time favorite movies, Hill spotted an athletically built female extra of around 30 years of age with a blue bandana wrapped over her reddish-blonde hair.
"What if the young murder victim no one has ever been able to identify has been seen by hundreds of millions of people in a beloved summer classic and they didn't even know they were looking at her? What if the ghost of the Lady of the Dunes haunts Jaws?"
For anyone planning a re-watch this summer, the woman can be seen during a crowd scene around 54 minutes and two seconds in.
From her size to her facial characteristics to her clothing style, she does have an unbelievable physical similarity to the picture composites released by the police throughout the years.
And what is even creepier is that the lady discovered on the sands may have been on her way to the shoot, as Jaws was shot on Martha's Vineyard, about 100 miles from Provincetown. Furthermore, filming for this moment took place just a few months before the body was discovered, bringing the two ladies together in both time and location.
Unsurprisingly, the filming sparked a lot of interest in the area, with many people flocking to help out as extras in the crowd scenes.
Think about it. It's easy to imagine a young lady passing by, or perhaps residing in the neighborhood, being enticed to go up to the film set and take a closer look, hoping to see their own face on the big screen.
What makes it harder to validate this theory is that Hollywood was different from nowadays, where extras are fastidiously tracked more than before.
This system's flaws were highlighted in a 2018 investigation by NBC 10 reporter R.J. Heim, who discovered that no extras' records were retained on the set of Jaws. In addition, the casting director died in 2009, leaving behind the mystery of this auburn-haired lady in blue jeans.
What supports this theory even more is that, according to Heim, many of the "extras" were just tourists who walked by a sign telling them that a film was being shot and that their faces may be caught on camera.
Hill told The Washington Post that after he presented his hypothesis to the Provincetown Police Department, the detective in charge of the investigation responded, "That's an interesting theory"', which Hill took as "a polite way of saying, 'That's pretty crazy and useless.'"
However, another officer who has recently been working on this case was more optimistic about Hill's theory, telling him, "You don't know, odds are long".
Hill told the Post:
"I've heard it said that everyone who was out on Cape Cod in the summer of 1974 appears in the movie Jaws. I'm sure that's an exaggeration, but there's a nugget of truth."
"People knew there were movie stars on Martha's Vineyard. The possibility that a person would make a stop on the island and appear in the movie is not unreasonable."
People are still mind-blown by Hill's theory six years after his blog post, which gained popularity in 2018 after being featured on the famous Wondery podcast Inside Jaws.
Unfortunately, the Lady of the Dunes remains unidentified in her grave, and we are unable to explain how she spent her very last summer so long ago. The investigation is still ongoing.
After reading the eerie theory of Hill about The Lady of the Dunes, are you a believer? Do you think it's a complete coincidence? Let us know.