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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET


Molly Line

Boston, MA


Lady of the Dunes: New Image, Cold Case

May 7, 2010 - 1:37 PM | by: Molly Line

In the summer of 1974 a young girl walking her dog down a Cape Cod beach stumbled upon the body of a woman. Brutally murdered – the victim was nearly beheaded, found naked on a beach towel, both hands chopped off and never found.

It’s an enduring mystery that has frustrated and challenged investigators in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Who is the ‘Lady of the Dunes’ and who killed her?

Provincetown Police Chief Jeff Jaran hopes a new composite image will generate fresh leads.

“Lady in the Dunes is probably one of the most famous unsolved cases in the country,” said Jaran. “A lot of man hours have gone into this case and it’s our hope to revive this and possibly get an identification on this woman.”

Forensic Imaging Specialists with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are lending their expertise, using special software to create a lifelike likeness of the woman. Using the Lady’s skull as a starting point, computers help build the image.

“We’ll photograph it, get a CT scan and the software reads that CT scan and turns it into a 3 dimensional model, that’s floating around in virtual space,” said Joe Mullins, a forensic imaging specialist with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The Lady of the Dunes had long red or auburn hair and remarkable dental work, including thousands of dollars worth of gold crowns, something unusual at that time. Estimated to be between 25 to 40 years old, she had an athletic build. At 5 foot 6, she weighed 145 pounds.

Her nearly severed head was resting on a folded pair of jeans. Her toenails were painted pink.

The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head.

At one point investigators thought she was Rory Gene Kesinger, a bank robber who had escaped from a regional jail but DNA results ruled that out.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has been using the new technology for four years with enormous success, solving cold cases and creating age progression images for missing children.

“The primary use of this technology is to keep long-term cases alive, to generate new leads for law enforcement, to provide answers and new hope for families and to bring closure and justice for a lot more people,” said Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

“Our belief in the Lady of the Dunes case, just like all these other cases, is there’s a family member, there’s a loved one, there’s a close friend somewhere who still thinks about this person on a regular basis so these people have a right to know and the victims deserve a decent burial,” said Allen.

Closure is what Provincetown Police are seeking. They want to put a name to this victim, buried for more than 30 years in a quiet community cemetery. They want to find her family.

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