American Horror Story is one of the most outrageous shows on the air, but that doesn't stop Ryan Murphy from drawing inspiration from or incorporating real-life events and urban legends. He's done it with the Black Dahlia (Mena Suvari) in Murder House, while Hotel's James March (Evan Peters) was inspired by H.H. Holmes, and Valerie Solanas really did attempt to assassinate Andy Warhol — although Solanas was not actually the Zodiac Killer, for the record. The list of true stories and true crime cases that have influenced American Horror Story's first nine seasons is long, and so it's not wild to speculate that Season 10 might also draw from reality in crafting its narrative — and one AHS fan already has a guess as to what case might have inspired Murphy this season.
In March, user lexjxhnn posted their theory on Reddit that Season 10 of American Horror Story could be inspired by the Lady in the Dunes, an infamous unsolved murder. This case has plagued detectives, both official and amateur, for decades, ever since a teenage girl discovered the body of an unidentified woman, who became known as the Lady of the Dunes, on July 26, 1974, in the Race Point Dunes in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The victim was found lying on a beach towel with her head crushed and nearly decapitated, and some teeth and both of her hands had been removed.
Although the case has never been solved, there are many theories about who the Lady of the Dunes is and how she may have died. Detectives investigated a lead that the Lady of the Dunes may have been an escaped convict, Rory Gene Kesinger, who broke out of jail in 1973, but DNA proved there was no match between the victim and the Kesinger family. Investigators also followed leads that the victim may have been a woman who was allegedly killed by mobster Whitey Bulger, who would remove teeth from those that he killed, or that she may have been murdered by serial killers Hadden Clark or Tony Costa.
But the most famous theory about this case isn't about how the Lady of the Dunes died, but who she may have been. In 2015, Stephen King's son and horror author Joe Hill shared his theory in a viral Tumblr post that the Lady of the Dunes may have been an extra in Jaws, which was filmed nearby in Massachusetts from May through October of 1974. As Hill pointed out, a woman in the background of the "July 4th Crowd Arrives" sequence resembles the reconstructions of the victim. The extra is also shown wearing a blue bandana and jeans, two items which were found with the victim at the crime scene.
While we still have only a few details confirmed about Season 10, the idea of the Lady of the Dunes inspiring the milestone installment does fit with what we do know. In the casting announcement Murphy posted in February, the backdrop was a dreary beach, leading many to suspect the setting wasn't sunny California or Florida, but that perhaps the show would be moving back to Massachusetts, a popular location in the series. (The Harmons moved from Boston at the start of Murder House, Asylum's Briarcliff Manor is located in Massachusetts, Pepper moved in with her sister in Massachusetts in Freak Show, and the Salem witch trials were regularly referenced in Coven.)
This speculation is supported by local news reports that claimed Ryan Murphy Productions and 20th Century Fox Television had been scouting locations around Provincetown for a shoot at the end of March and in April, when AHS Season 10 was supposed to be beginning production. (Production on AHS has been delayed due to the coronavirus.)
Tourism Director Anthony Fuccillo told Wicked Local that the production planned to shoot at multiple locations, including "dunes, beaches, streets and private properties in town." The title of the production that was being scouted has been kept under wraps, but location scout Tiffany Kinder did give a statement that adds weight to the likelihood of it being AHS. "It's not a terrible show about Provincetown in particular, but, you know, there is a little bit of supernatural things happening," Kinder said.
The theory that the Lady of the Dunes may play a part in AHS Season 10 also falls in line with Ryan Murphy's saying that Episode 8 of AHS: 1984 featured a major clue about the theme of Season 10. As lexjhnn pointed out, the journalist Stacey told Donna (Angelica Ross) and Brooke (Emma Roberts) that "Back in the '70s all anyone cared about was Bigfoot, and aliens, the Loch Ness Monster," and the reference to the '70s could have been hinting toward this case. There's also the chance that they will connect the lore of the Lady of the Dunes with the Bridgewater Triangle, an area in Massachusetts that is an alleged site of paranormal phenomena and cryptids sightings, which would fit with Stacey's memorable line and open up the possibility to lean more into the urban legends and lore surrounding Lady of the Dunes rather than a literal take on the true crime. (Similar to how AHS: Hotel was inspired by the death of Elisa Lam but didn't incorporate the actual case.)
Of course, all of this is speculation still, but with so many interesting directions Murphy could take the Lady of the Dunes case within the American Horror Story universe, we're hoping this is one theory that proves true.
American Horror Story Season 10 is scheduled to premiere on FX later this year.