The late Guy Muldavin, who was married to a woman who would be found slain in the dunes of Provincetown but not identified for decades, has been described as charismatic and a charmer, but now he’s being eyed as a person of interest in the murder of Ruth Marie Terry — and a possible serial killer.
Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe and Massachusetts State Police Col. Chris Mason spoke exclusively with the NBC10 Investigators about the case that’s haunted police and prosecutors for almost five decades.
"It was a pretty horrific crime scene and an investigation began to try and identify this person,” Keefe said.
Mason said initially investigators started looking at missing person reports and weren’t able to come up with anybody that fit the description of the body that was recovered in the dunes of Provincetown.
It was July 26,,1974, when Ruth Marie Terry’s body was found in the dunes of Provincetown. Her identity was unknown until this October when the FBI turned to investigative genealogy and DNA from her skull finally put a name to the composite sketch of the woman known only as the Lady of the Dunes.
Terry’s great-niece, Brittanie Novonglosky, called Terry a loving person.
“She wanted to explore. She wanted more than what she thought her life was in Tennessee,” Novonglosky said.
Terry's passion for exploration eventually led her to a life far from her roots in Whitwell, Tennessee. She left home in the 1970s to travel the country. Those years and her relationships along the way now the center of the investigation into her murder.
Crime scene photos tucked away in a blue binder help to piece together the mystery. One photo shows the indentation of where her body was found in the dunes at Race Point.
Terry was the victim of a vicious crime. Her skull was crushed, her head was nearly decapitated, her hands were severed and several teeth were missing.
"It was just earth-shattering to know that somebody so beautiful and so loved and so bright was taken like that," Novonglosky said.
The discovery in the dunes
Alyssa Metcalfe’s sister, Leslie, who has since died, made the gruesome discovery. She was 12 years old at the time.
Leslie was walking to the C-Scape dune shack when a dog ran off and began barking. At first, Metcalfe said, her sister didn’t know it was a body in the dunes; she thought it was a deer but realized what it was when she got closer.
“I remember my sister saying she looked really peaceful because she was just laying there. She thought she looked more like a mannequin than a human,” Metcalfe said.
The NBC10 Investigators traveled out to the scene where Terry was killed with Provincetown native Josiah Mayo the week before the case broke wide open. Mayo spent a lot of time in the dunes as a child.
"Spending time out here as a child, it didn’t register. Always felt like it was a very safe place and still does," he said.
O’Keefe, the district attorney, believes Terry was killed in the dunes. He doesn’t think the body was dumped there.
Piecing together the life of Ruth Marie Terry
The investigation has quickly shifted from identifying Terry to the hunt for her killer.
A marriage certificate obtained by the NBC10 Investigators shows she married Guy Muldavin in Nevada months before she died.
We’ve discovered that Muldavin, who also goes by the name of Raoul Rockwell and several other aliases, is no stranger to police and likely no stranger to Provincetown. Barnstable County records show his parents bought land and properties in town in the late 1940s and mid-1950s.
The one-time antiques dealer was a suspect in the brutal killing and mutilation of his previous wife and stepdaughter in Seattle in 1960 but was never charged with murder. Newspaper reports at the time describe the horror — human remains found in a septic tank of the family’s home and business.
Muldavin made front page news later that year when he was arrested in New York after fleeing from Seattle and not giving testimony related to the mutilation of human remains. It’s a history that concerns investigators.
When asked if Muldavin could possibly be a serial killer, O’Keefe said, “I would only say that’s something that we’re certainly looking at.”
“We know he’s resided in Seattle, we know that he’s been a resident of California. We know that he was in Chicago briefly and of course we know he was married to Ruth and Ruth had family in Tennessee,” Mason added.
Muldavin apparently penned a bizarre book, titled “Cooking with Rump Oil,” that was published two years after Ruth Marie Terry’s murder. It includes disturbing recipes and fictional beings.
One page is a recipe for “Cape Cod Shid.” In part it reads, “Out of the water and into the pan. The sweet turpentine taste will turn to that of a burnt glove and the tender look will become one of despair."
This page from "Cooking With Rump Oil" by Guy Muldavin may be disturbing to some viewers. Click to view.
Terry’s family says it was Muldavin who told them Terry disappeared from the couple’s California home. The Terrys never stopped searching for her, they even traveled to the west coast, where they hired a private investigator to help.
"The man told my great-grandfather that all of her belongings had been sold and gotten rid of and she left the state," Novonglosky said. He also said Terry was part of a religious cult.
Flowers, shells, stones and a temporary sign with Ruth Marie Terry’ name now adorn her grave in St. Peter’s Cemetery that was simply marked as an unidentified female body for 48 years.
"It’s very, very sad for us, because she was up there for 50 years all by herself,” Novonglosky said.
Muldavin’s life went on after Terry’s murder. He was hiding in plain sight in California for many years until 2002, when he died at the age of 78.