Provincetown Jane Doe

Lady of the Dunes
On July 26, 1974, a young girl was walking her beagle on Race Point Beach in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Like so many dog walkers, she discovered something horrific — the body of a redheaded woman among the sandy dunes near the water. The body was naked and lying on a large beach towel. The woman’s head was resting on a folded pair of jeans.

It was obvious the woman had been murdered. For one thing, she was almost decapitated. For another, her hands had been cut off. Some of her teeth had been pulled out. The left side of her head had been crushed in.

“The official cause of death was listed at the time in 1974 as blunt-force trauma to the head with signs of strangulation, sexual assault, and amputation of both hands,” Provincetown Police Detective Meredith Lobur said. That poor woman! What a horrible, horrible death!

I feel bad for that young girl who found the body. I imagine the sight of that horror haunted her for years.

Lady of DunesThe woman, police think, had been murdered 2 to 3 weeks before her body was found. She had long red or auburn hair. She was between 25 and 40 years old, around 5’6″ tall, and weighed around 140 pounds.

I believe the woman took pride in her appearance. Her toenails were daintily painted pink, and most importantly, her dental work had cost a small fortune. She had gold crowns that police estimated were worth between $5000 and $10,000, and that was back in 1974. There just weren’t that many women who had had such expensive dental work done, but still authorities couldn’t identify her.

The only items this woman was found with were the beach towel, the jeans and a bandana. Those were not much help at all.

Provincetown had a very small population in the off-season, but in the summer tourists from around the world flocked to Cape Cod. They still do.

Lady of the DunesThere were no reported abandoned vehicles, no empty hotel rooms. It’s possible that this Jane Doe with the luxurious red hair had just arrived and wound up staying forever. It’s very likely she was brought there by her killer and was murdered right away.

There has been speculation through the years that this particular Jane Doe was involved with organized crime — the dental work could have been done through contacts in the underworld. She, or somebody she knew, had deep pockets full of money to afford those gold crowns.

The removal of the hands and teeth was a sure sign that her killer didn’t want her identified. It’s likely then, at some point in her life, she’d been fingerprinted.

For a time it was suspected she was a bank robber/murderer by the name of Rory Gene Kesinger who escaped from prison, but that didn’t pan out.

Lady of the DunesThe Provincetown police have tried over the years to identify their “Lady in the Dunes”. They’ve put out all kinds of facial reconstructions, all of them looking quite different. They recruited a forensic anthropologist from the Smithsonian Institute who determined she was most likely in her mid-30s when she died.

I found an image of the skull and decided to make my version of this Jane Doe. She had gorgeous red hair, and I figure she might have had freckles to go with it. I did versions with and without the freckles.

Jane Doe had a strong chin. I gave her green eyes to go with the hair, but they might have been blue. I also gave her pinky lipstick to go with the toenail polish.

This unfortunate woman had been brutally murdered and abandoned almost 40 years ago, and if she had siblings they are probably senior citizens now. They deserve to have her back.

The citizens of Provincetown buried her properly and put a marker on her grave. She deserves to have a name on that marker.

If anybody out there has any information about the identity of this woman they can contact the Provincetown Police at 508-487-1213.

My version of Lady of the Dunes

Cape Cod Online article
Examiner article

15 Responses to Provincetown Jane Doe

  1. bulldoggy says:

    How can all those pictures look so different. Some make her look really old, the top one makes her look like a teenage hippy, and why doesn’t the other colored picture have red hair? It’s the same skull right? Hard to believe.

  2. awesomeblossom says:

    Cleo yours makes her look pretty, and I think if she had a sugar daddy to pay for her dental work she’d have to be pretty. I definitely can’t see a mouth full of gold crowns on that first picture. And what was with the clowny eyebrows? I am not surprised she wasn’t identified from that sketch.

  3. 2cute says:

    It was probably a sugar daddy like you said awesomeblossom because if she were rich and bought those teeth herself her disappearance would have been noticed. Rich people don’t just wind up as unclaimed bodies.

    • Bengalpuss says:

      She could of come from abroad 2cute, but she definately must of been earning some good money for all that dental work, just how she earned that money is the answer. cleos picture looks more lifelike, the others are shite, and they don’t even have this poor womens red hair in the pictures. Well done cleo, lets hope she gets identified soon.

  4. pj says:

    So does anybody know if she was killed on the beach or brought to the beach dead? There would’ve been a lot of blood right if the killer started chopping her to bits. I wonder if he was interrupted since he didn’t finish taking off the head. Maybe somebody saw something but didn’t know what.

  5. moodymagic says:

    Cleo another great job on the face. I too am confused with how different all these faces look. Yours by far is the best likeliness because all that money spent on dental work she would not be dressing like a hippy. What a joke. Next the one with the big nose and very small mouth more like a portrait painting. The next one what happened to the long hair and she looks more like 60 to 65. The top end of her age was 40. I don’t get it. Lastly the final drawing not even red hair and look how thick the eye brows are. I would think that with that much money spent on her mouth even if it was someone elses money I believe the woman cared about her appearance and bushy eye brows like that does not show she cared at all about her appearance. Cleo you put a human aspect to this woman that she much deserves.

  6. Ashton says:

    Cleo, you are an amazing artist. I strongly suggest you publish them at the Doe Network (they also will give you credit if you leave your name). Since so many people use the site, your work, especially for the Spokane Jane Doe and the Ontario Jane Doe could increase the chances of those poor women to get their names back.

  7. Ashton says:

    Cleo – Just thought of an article. There was a guy named Hadden Clark who confessed to Lady of the Dunes’ murder (which was most likely false). He was, however, convicted of the murder of six-year-old Michelle Dorr and Laura Houghteling in a fairly hellbestish manner.

    • cleo says:

      Sounds interesting. I shall check into it. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • Bengalpuss says:

      Ashton, you might be onto something there, because he did say that he had murdered some woman in the sand dunes he also said that he removed her hands from the wrists and used her fingers as bait for fishing. He also stated that he buried her in a shallow grave in the sand, so i wonder if you might be onto something? Seems strange that you’ve got a body with wounds that match a killers description of a murder he confessed to the police, makes you think doesn’t it?.,

  8. Ashton says:

    I actually have my doubts about Hadden’s confession, since he has paranoid schizophrenia. People with that condition often confess to things that they didn’t commit and he has been known to lie about his crimes, which I believe only consisted of Laura Houghteling and Michelle Dorr.

  9. Bengalpuss says:

    Cleo, i was reading a wikipedia article the other day and one of your facial reconstructions was used in the article and crediting with your name, i thought how cool. I obviously don’t remember which one it was but it obviously won’t be difficult to find.

  10. Marie says:

    Tragic, yet fascinating case. Just recently, writer Joe Hill, son of Stephen King, noted the compostie drawing with the green background looks quite a bit like an extra in the movie “Jaws”, although the woman in the composite has a high forehead, and the woman who briefly appears in “Jaws” has a low hairline. Still, there’s no telling where this might lead. I pray there’s closure in this case.

  11. Charles says:

    Hi Cleo. All those different facial reconstructions are just plain crazy. It is the kind of generated mass visual confusion I would expect of some paid-off police insider who does not want a crime to be solved.

    But hey. I saw an old 1974 photograph of the Provincetown Jane Doe’s defleshed cranium sitting on a desk in front of the old 1974 Chief of Police in Provincetown. I have significant professional training in forensic anthropology and human osteology—although I do not work in that field today. I took one look at that cranium and immediately recognized beyond a shadow of a doubt that none of those early or most recent facial reconstructions from the police go with that cranium—no way whatsoever. The thing I find truly fascinating is that no one in Provincetown police circles recognizes that simple and quite obvious fact.

    That cranium on the old police chief’s desk belongs to a person with a wide, rounded, dish-like face and head. Your facial reconstruction in the final two side-by-side photographs above fit that cranium almost perfectly—no doubt about it whatsoever. You did an excellent job on that, and from what I know about cranial morphology, I have no doubt whatsoever that your reconstruction is a dead wringer for what this Jane Doe actually looked like in real life—and yes—I think the freckles go with the incredibly white skin in the field death photograph where the body was found. I just saw that photo a few minutes ago in another on-line article.

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