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Police Identify Husband As Suspect In Cape Cod 'Lady of the Dunes' Cold Case Murder

After finally identifying a 1974 Provincetown Jane Doe as Ruth Terry, police are calling her now-deceased husband, Guy Rockwell Muldavin, a "person of interest" in the case.

By Megan Carpentier
5 Infamous Cold Cases of Murder

Having just identified a murder victim whose name went unknown for 48 years, it took police less than a week to name a person of interest in the case: Her husband.

On Monday, the FBI announced that Ruth Marie Terry, 37, was the woman whose brutalized, partially dismembered body was found by a 12-year-old girl on the sand dunes around Provincetown, Massachusetts in 1974, Oxygen.com previously reported. Little was initially released about her life in the years before death, though investigators say she had grown up in Tennessee and had connections to California, Massachusetts and Michigan. She was also believed to have been a mother

She died of a blunt force trauma to the left side of her head which had crushed her skull. Her killer also removed her hands, apparently discarding them, and nearly severed her head with what police believe was a military entrenching tool — a kind of small, pick-shovel device — possibly to stymy attempts to identify her.

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The killer then left her head resting on a pair of folded jeans and her body on a large beach towel. She went undiscovered for somewhere between 10 and 21 days until a beagle picked up the scent and led the 12-year-old to the horrifying scene while she was hiking with her parents.

She was dubbed the "Lady of the Dunes" and buried in a grave marked "Unidentified Female Body" in St. Peter's Cemetery in Provincetown, the Cape Cod Times reported. 

Then, despite at least two exhumations to try to identify her, the case went cold. Ultimately, investigators used DNA and genetic genealogy to identify her remains.

A police handout of Guy Rockwell

Now, police say they are looking for more information on the man to whom she was reportedly married at the time of her death: Guy Rockwell Muldavin, who died in 2002, according to SFGATE.

Police believe the two were married in Reno early 1974, according to NBC Boston affiliate WBTS; true crime writer Ann Rule first wrote in her book "Smoke, Mirrors and Murder" that Muldavin had married a woman named Teri in Reno. 

Terry allegedly used aliases before her own murder, going by Teri Marie Vizina, Terry M. Vizina and Teri Shannon. Muldavin used the aliases Raoul Guy Rockwell and Guy Muldavin Rockwell.

It was under the name Raoul Guy Rockwell that Muldavin — then 37 — was married to his second wife, Manzanita Mearns, helping parent her daughter, Delores Ann, 18, and living and working as an antiques dealer in Seattle, according to Rule and SFGATE.

Manzanita and Delores disappeared on April 1, 1960 and Muldavin filed for and received a divorce in July 1960, claiming desertion, according to the Madera Tribune. He married his third wife, Evelyn Emerson, in July 1960, and immediately borrowed $10,000 from her mother to purchase antiques.

He then disappeared. Manzanita's first husband reported her missing in August 1960 and investigators subsequently found human flesh and body parts in the septic tank of the home where the three had lived and Muldavin operated his antiques shop.

He was arrested by the FBI at an apartment in Greenwich Village in December 1960 and returned to Washington to face a charge of fleeing to avoid giving testimony and a fraud charge related to the check he received from his then-estranged third wife's mother, the Tribune reported.

At the time of his arrest, the New York papers referred to him as "a bunco artist and great lover," noting that he had a number of girlfriends and was popular in the city's beatnik scene. Rule reported that he was never charged with Manzanita or Delores' murder.

He was, however, charged and convicted in the fraud case involving his wife's mother in 1961, the Cape Cod Times reported. Though he received a 15-year sentence, a judge suspended it in March 1962, provided he repay the money.

Little is known of his life after that other than his marriage to "Teri" in February 1974, but an obituary that ran after his 2002 death, at the supposed age of 78, says that he moved to Salinas, California around 1980, according to SFGATE. (Rule's book suggested that Muldavin had lied about his year of birth.)

Police are seeking information about his whereabouts in 1973 and 1974.

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