Joe Hill, son of Stephen King and also a writer, says a scene in the film could be the key to a mystery that's baffled police since 1974
Stephen King’s son has said that a scene from Steven Spielberg’s iconic film Jaws could help police to solve a murder case from 1974.
Joe Hill – the pen name of King’s son Joe Hillstrom King – read about an unsolved murder on Cape Cod in 1974, a few miles away from where parts of Spielberg’s breakthrough film was made.
The victim, an unidentified female, has only ever been known as “Lady of the Dunes”. Detectives have been trying to identify the woman, thought to be between 20 and 40 years old, for over forty years.
After police issued a forensic recreation of the victim’s face, Hill noticed that the sketch looked remarkably similar to an extra who appears just under an hour into the film.
Hill was attending a special 40th anniversary screening of the film with his three sons when he noticed the woman, who appears as a Ferry disembarks at Martha’s Vineyard, close to the Southern end of Cape Cod. The scene was filmed less than 100 miles from where the unidentified body was found.
Hill believes there is a connection. Speaking to Esquire.com, he said: “The movie and the murder overlap geographically and chronologically…allowing for the possibility that the Lady of the Dunes was in the right place at the right time – or, rather, the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Speaking to The Washington Post, Hill added: “I felt I had [already] seen ‘Lady of the Dunes’, that her face had come up out of the crowd at me.”
“I’ve heard it said that everyone who was out on Cape Cod in the summer of 1974 appears in the movie Jaws…I’m sure that’s an exaggeration, but there’s a nugget of truth. People knew there were movie stars on Martha’s Vineyard. The possibility that a person would make a stop on the island and appear in the movie is not unreasonable.”
Hill zoomed in on a still from Jaws and noticed the distinct similarity to the police-issued forensic sketch. The victim was discovered with a blue bandana and the extra in jaws can also be seen wearing a blue bandana in the scene.
In a post on Tumblr Hill said that whilst his theory might seem far-fetched, it may also have some truth. He wrote: “the young murder victim no one has ever been able to identify [may have] been seen by hundreds of millions of people in a beloved summer classic and they didn’t even know they were looking at her.”
Hill said no record of extras was kept in 1974 when Jaws was made after a writer had looked into the archives of Universal Pictures previously. He did, however, pass his theory onto police investigating the case.
Hill added: “There are people alive today who were in that shot in Jaws and know they’re in that shot…two astonishing things happened on Cape Cod in the summer of 1974…one is that Steven Spielberg filmed Jaws and the [the] other is that someone murdered this woman in the dunes outside Princetown and got away with it. Anything that stirs people’s memories could potentially be productive.”
Hill said that the case had also fascinated his father. “Everyone in my family likes a good bit of weird, unsettling Americana…when faced with grotesque, inexplicable tragedies, one of the ways that human beings master their own anxiety and concern…[is to] bring order back to chaos.”