The Lady and the Shark.
August 7, 2018 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Is that her?? Fiction author Joe Hill describes his interest in a 1974 unsolved murder and the possibility that the victim was an extra in the filming of JAWS. Full disclosure: Joe Hill's dad is a pretty good writer too.
posted by JanetLand (9 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I love Joe Hill, Jaws, Cape Cod, and cold cases - and thanks for this post that is right up my alley, JanetLand - but this seems a biiit of a stretch. I was waiting for any other corroborating evidence, like someone remembered the extra from Jaws and couldn't get in touch with her after that summer or something.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:29 AM on August 7, 2018

This is really well-written and interesting - and I am a big fan of Joe Hill. But that's ALL he has to go on? Not terribly convincing. However, like WCityMike, I'm grateful for the introduction to the blog.
posted by Ziggy500 at 8:11 AM on August 7, 2018

Wow, I'm from MA but had never heard about this case. It's pretty crazy that her body was never identified.

This was well-written and fun, but I'm a bit annoyed that he kept calling her a "girl" throughout, even referring to other people as "women." She was estimated to be 30 years old, why not call her a woman?
posted by lunasol at 8:53 AM on August 7, 2018 [3 favorites]

Inside Jaws is a pretty good recent podcast about the behind the scenes making of Jaws interspersed with historical details of actual shark-based tragedies. It touches on the Hill theory in one of its final episodes.

I actually made my family sit down and watch Jaws just so I could have people to rant at. ("DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT WAS TO GET THAT TIGER SHARK? WELL DO YOOOUUU???")
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:22 AM on August 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Having worked on movie sets on-location with large amounts of extras, I can totally see how a person could wander in, get on camera for a few frames, and wander out without ever really interacting with the crew. Especially in the 70s, when rules were far more relaxed. If this person didn't make themselves known, either by repeated fuck-ups (e.g. spiking/rifling the camera) or doing something on purpose, the crew would be focused elsewhere.

A stretch. But I can see a plausible scenario.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:35 AM on August 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

It would be even more impressive if the murderer turned out to also be in the movie.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:08 PM on August 7, 2018

The upside of someone like Hill writing about this, of course, is reach. Let this wander the internet for a few days - which it will do far more widely than if someone like me wrote it - and maybe someone will raise their hand as being her or knowing her, the lady who was in JAWS for a second, and if we're really lucky there will be a name on a record somewhere to corroborate (but yeah, that may have been the old fashioned "come on down and be in a crowd scene!" anonymous extra work) or a family photo of her on the set or whatever. And then we find out if she was around after that summer or if they never heard from her again.

And even if it's a boring conclusion, we got a bit of a chill for a second.

This, I think, is the upside of internet cold case sleuthing: this wide swath that might very well unearth someone who knew something maybe they didn't even know someone else wanted to know. I wanted to enjoy the current resurgence of true crime podcasts, but they so shittily perpetuate all the old tropes of "if she was a victim, why didn't she just-" or "if you just murdered someone you'd-" and are so unintersectional they do a real-world disservice to vulnerable people. And all of it just encourages the kind of people who comment on news articles.

That that upside can also be turned back on itself - not everyone asking "have you seen this woman/child/vehicle" has safety or wellbeing in mind - is an issue too, not all mysteries are best solved, though a mystery this old is probably more toothless than most.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:40 PM on August 7, 2018 [5 favorites]

I feel like I’m the only one coming to this like, “Hey, I know that case! Oh, some guy has written about it,” instead of the other way round, hah. I guess I should really read a Joe Hill book someday—I keep seeing good reviews.
posted by daisyk at 6:21 AM on August 8, 2018

It would be even more impressive if the murderer turned out to also be in the movie.

That got me thinking...This is all like the reverse of the serial killer who was in The Exorcist.

Has anyone checked where everyone in the cast of The Omen was during the Zodiac killings?
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:52 AM on August 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

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