Man Arrested in 1986 Murder of Teenager

Cathy He
By Cathy He
March 12, 2018US News
Man Arrested in 1986 Murder of Teenager
(Stock photo CC0)

On Oct. 1, 1986, 15-year-old Tracy Gilpin went to a party in Massachusetts, and never returned home.

Her battered body was discovered in the woods three weeks later.

More than 31 years since her death, an arrest has been made. On Saturday, March 10, police arrested Michael Hand, 61, in Troutman, North Carolina, for Tracy’s murder, reported WSOCTV.

NTD Photo
Michael Hand (Troutman Police)

According to Boston 25 News, Tracy left a party in Kingston to buy cigarettes at a convenience store. That was the last place she was seen alive.

The clerk at the store told Boston 25 News that they remembered Tracy talking to someone in a Jeep in the parking lot. She also used a payphone to make a call after she left the store.

When the store closed at 11 p.m., the clerk offered the high-school freshman a ride home. She declined and started walking, the station reported.

“A nearby neighbor heard what they thought was a scream and a car taking off. Tracy never came home that night,” said Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz, reported Boston 25 News.

On Oct. 22, 21 days later, Tracy’s body was discovered by a woman walking her dog. She was found more than 14 miles away in the woods of the Myles Standish State Forest in Plymouth.

Tracy had a brutal death, Cruz previously told Boston 25 News.

“She had significant brain trauma. She had died due to a massive blow to her head,” Cruz said.

“The evidence suggests she was abducted. She was abducted from a place that she was, and taken to another section of our county where she was brutally murdered.”

WSOCTV reports that over the past week investigators conducted extensive interviews with Hand, in which he made some statements which prompted his arrest.

Hand is currently in jail without bond in North Carolina. He is due in court on Monday, March 12, when authorities will commence action to send him back to Massachusetts to face charges.

Tracy’s sister is Kerry Gilpin, 47, who is now a Massachusetts State Police Colonel. It was Tracy’s murder that led Kerry to pursue a career in law enforcement, the Boston Globe reported.

In a statement, Kerry said: “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.”


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