TROUTMAN, N.C. - A Troutman man is in jail with no bond after authorities said he killed a 15-year-old Massachusetts girl more than 30 years ago.
Authorities arrested Michael Hand, 61, on Friday for the murder of Tracy Gilpin in October 1986.
Gilpin left a party in Kingston, Massachusetts to buy cigarettes but never returned, according to Channel 9’s sister station, Boston 25 News. Several weeks later, a woman walking her dog spotted Tracy’s body. The medical examiner ruled that Tracy died from a massive skull fracture.
Tracy was the sister of Kerry Gilpin, who is now a Massachusetts State Police Colonel.
Kerry Gilpin released a statement on the arrest:
"My family and I would like to thank Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz, the Plymouth County State Police Detective Unit, the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab, the Kingston and Plymouth Police Departments, police in North Carolina, and all of the investigators who have worked diligently over the last 31 years to solve Tracy’s murder. We are also extremely grateful to the members of the public who have provided information to investigators. For the past three decades, we have remained hopeful that Tracy’s murderer would be identified. The much-welcomed news of an arrest in the case leaves us cautiously optimistic that justice for Tracy is within reach. My thoughts today are not just with my own family, but also with all the families who have lost loved ones to violence. We will continue to work tirelessly to find justice for all murder victims."
Troutman police said that over the past week, investigators from Massachusetts State Police, with the assistance of Troutman and Mooresville Police Departments, conducted extensive interviews with Hand. During the interviews, statements from Hand led authorities to arrest him, according to officials.
Channel 9 spoke to Hand's neighbors in Troutman who said Hand never mentioned anything about Tracy. Calvin Ostwalt said he knew Hand had ties to the Boston-area and has been back several times to visit over the years.
"Shocked to hear that a man could do something like that and not stand up for what he did and leave all these people, the family especially, in doubt trying to figure out what was going on all these years," Ostwalt said.
Hand is expected to be in court on Monday. Authorities have begun extradition proceedings to send him back to Massachusetts.
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