Arrest made in 1986 slaying of Mass. LEO's sister

Col. Kerry Gilpin says justice in her late sister’s three decade-old murder is “within reach” after a man was arrested in the 1986 slaying of the teenage girl


By Antonio Planas and Laurel J. Sweet
Boston Herald

KINGSTON, Mass. — State police Col. Kerry Gilpin says justice in her late sister’s three decade-old murder is “within reach” after a North Carolina man was arrested in the 1986 slaying of the teenage girl from Kingston.

Michael Arthur Hand, 61, of Troutman, N.C., is in custody in North Carolina pending a court appearance today linked to the slaying of 15-year-old Tracy Gilpin of Kingston, authorities said.

Hand, who is in the custody of the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, lived in Kingston at the time of the homicide, a police source confirmed.

“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,” Col. Gilpin said in a statement.

“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.”

Tracy Gilpin’s family reported her missing Oct. 1, 1986. Her body was not found until Oct. 22, 1986, in Myles Standish Park in Plymouth. An autopsy determined the teen had been killed by a massive skull fracture.

Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz said state troopers assigned to his office arrested Hand on Friday at his home and charged him as a fugitive from justice based on a warrant for his arrest in Tracy Gilpin’s homicide.

A law enforcement source told the Herald that Hand was arrested through “shoe-leather type police work.”

“It wasn’t a cold, DNA database hit. It was other investigative methods that led to him,” the source said.

Iredell County Sheriff’s Department Cpl. Kenny Wilson said Hand was brought to the jail Friday at 8:25 p.m. He is ­being held on no bond pending an expected appearance today in Iredell District Court in Statesville, N.C.

Authorities have already begun rendition proceedings to return Hand to Massachusetts, state police said

Asked if Hand has made any special requests since his detention, Wilson said, “He keeps asking for a Kosher diet, but we’ve explained to him we don’t have that here.”

Hand’s neighbors in Troutman, N.C., a town of less than 3,000 people about 40 miles north of Charlotte, said they were flabbergasted to learn of Hand’s allegedly violent past.

“He was definitely kind of an oddball. He would wave. And sometimes he would come over and want to talk. He could talk, and go on and on and on, sometimes. Frankly, I tried to keep my distance,” said Steve Suther, 70.

“There’s something about him that I thought was a little bizarre. But I would have never thought anything like that about him,”

Hand’s three-bedroom, ranch-style house near downtown Troutman has since 2008 been owned by Brookdale Realty Trust, which lists an address in Kingston, Mass., according to Iredell County public records.

North Carolina neighbor Shirley Parker, 81, called Hand an opinionated “Yankee” from Boston who lived on disability and had a collection of guns.

“It freaks me out if he would have killed anybody.

“I can’t imagine. That is beyond my comprehension,” Parker said.

©2018 the Boston Herald

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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