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On Dec. 20, 1976, a teenager in Carbon County, Pennsylvania made a grisly discovery when he found the remains of a pregnant woman along the banks of the Lehigh River.

Her identity was a mystery, and to this day, the murder remains unsolved.

But now, more than four decades later, authorities are investigating the possibility that the victim of this gruesome slaying had ties to Massachusetts, according to a blog post on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website.

The body of the unidentified woman had been dismembered and put into three suitcases that were apparently thrown off the westbound bridge of Interstate 80, according to the blog post.

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“Authorities say she was violently raped, strangled and shot in the neck after she died,” the blog post said. “She was pregnant, full-term, with a little girl. The fetus was cut from her body and her nose, ears and breasts were removed.”

Authorities said the victim had brown hair and brown eyes, and was between 15 and 25 years old. State investigators referred to her as “Beth Doe.”

But a recent tip called into police suggests that she may have been named Madelyn “Maggie” Cruz, and she may have lived in Framingham at one point.

According to the blog post, Cruz was believed to be in the care of New Jersey social services in the early 1970s, and was then sent to Rockwood Academy, a private school in Lenox, Mass., for a short time. She was then taken in by a foster family in Framingham, and it’s also possible that she went to Framingham North High School. Around 1974, when she was 16 years old, she ran away from Framingham and may have traveled to Tarrytown, N.Y., authorities said in the blog post.

“After two years of no contact, Maggie called a friend stating that she was pregnant and needed money,” the blog post said. “Unfortunately, Maggie would not say where she was. Police say this was the last time that anyone heard from Maggie.”

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Pennsylvania State Police are now asking for the public’s help.

“Someone out there knows who she is,” Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Brian Noll said in the blog post. “And there is always hope that someone will come forward with information.”

“This particular lead checks a lot of boxes for us as being a possible match for our victim,” he said. “We are hopeful to be able to identify her as our victim or rule her out with certainty.”

Noll said anyone who has knowledge of the possible identity of Beth Doe or information about the lead on Madelyn “Maggie” Cruz should contact the Pennsylvania State Police at 570-459-3890.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.