Analyst Suggests 44-Year-Old Murder Mystery Could Be Solved in the American Classic 'Jaws'


When it comes to strange stories, there is no better expert than Stephen King’s son. Joe Hill’s father, after all, is best known for his horror stories and supernatural fiction.

In his blog, Hill described something that he noticed in the classic movie “Jaws” that could potentially solve a 44-year-old murder mystery that plagued his childhood hometown of Provincetown, Massachusetts.

In July 1974, around the time Steven Spielberg was filming “Jaws” in nearby Martha’s Vineyard, a woman’s body was found by Sandra Lee who was walking her dog at the time, according to Fox News.

“An attempt had been made to remove her head, probably with the blade of a shovel, but the decapitation had been unsuccessful,” Hill wrote. “The killer had better luck taking off her hands, which were never found.”

He added, “Several teeth had also been removed, all part of an effort, one presumes, to make her impossible to identify. Her jeans and a blue bandana had been folded and placed beneath her head.”

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She was later dubbed the Lady of the Dunes, and in the 40 years since her discovery, no one has claimed her and her killer has never been identified.

Fast forward to June 2015 while Hill was watching a 40th-anniversary screening of “Jaws” — which he admits is his favorite movie.

“I was watching in my usual tranced out state of dreamy pleasure… and then, suddenly, found myself half-lunging out of my seat, prickling with gooseflesh,” Hill recounted.

What Hill saw was an extra in the scene who he believes to perfectly resemble the Lady of the Dunes, according to the several attempts that have been made to reconstruct what the woman looked like before her body was found.

Do you think this theory has any potential to be true?

“We know about the blue bandana and the Wrangler jeans. We know she was between the ages of 25 and 49 years old… although 30 seems a particularly good bet. She had expensive dental work. Her hair was auburn or red. She was fit, 145 pounds, and when she was discovered her hair was in a ponytail, captured by a holder with gold sparkles in it,” Hill wrote. And that’s all that anyone knows about the Lady of the Dunes.

At least until Hill watched “Jaws” and came up with his theory that she might have been an extra in the movie. The film was made during the summer of 1974 in Martha’s Vineyard near where the woman was found.

Hill told an FBI agent he knew socially about his theory and the agent said, “You know, it might be worth going forward with your theory. There might be something in it. Odder ideas have cracked colder cases.”

The woman in the film does seem to match the description of what is known about the Lady of the Dunes, so maybe Hill’s theory has some truth to it, as he discusses the observation on the “Inside Jaws” podcast.

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However, he does admit that he is “under no illusions about the situation here. I was watching JAWS, under the influence of The Skeleton Crew, and my subconscious invented an exciting little story about the Lady of the Dunes on the spot.”

“I turn this possibility over to the greatest puzzle solving instrument humans have ever created: the Internet. Give JAWS another watch. Look for the Lady.”

Although this mystery remains unsolved, perhaps someone will continue to dig into this theory and see if they can crack this cold case.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith