31 Years After 15-Year-Old Murdered, Arrest Finally Made in Cold Case
In 1986, 15-year-old Tracy Gilpin was walking home with her friends after a nearby party in Kingston, Massachusetts.
The group left the party around 10:30 p.m., and once her friends made it to their homes, she continued walking by herself.
Tracy soon stopped at a convenience store along the way to purchase cigarettes.
The woman behind the counter then saw her leave the store and use the pay phone before talking to someone in a Jeep in the parking lot.
The clerk asked Tracy if she wanted a ride home after she closed the store at 11 p.m., but the teen refused and began walking alone again. It was the last time she would ever be seen alive.
“A nearby neighbor heard what they thought was a scream and a car taking off. Tracy never came home that night,” Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz said.
Three weeks would pass before any trace of the teen was found. But on Oct. 22, a woman walking her dog stumbled upon Tracy’s partially-dressed body in the forest, 14 miles away from where she was last seen.
It was later revealed that Tracy was brutally murdered. “She had significant brain trauma,” Cruz explained. “She had died due to a massive blow to her head.”
It is thought that Tracy died on the night she went missing, and authorities have said the evidence suggests she was first abducted.
But without a solid trail of evidence leading them to a suspect, the murder became a cold case for more than three decades.
Tracy’s family never gave up in the search for her killer. Still seeking answers just one year ago, they offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who could give them information leading to an arrest.
And now, 31 years later, an arrest has been made. On Sunday, law enforcement told Boston news outlets of the arrest of 61-year-old Michael Hand in North Carolina.
Last week, police investigators conducted extensive interviews with Hand, and statements he made led to his arrest at his home on March 9.
Hand was charged as a “fugitive from justice based on an arrest warrant issued for the murder of Tracy.”
Authorities are now working to bring him back to Massachusetts to be prosecuted for the murder. When he arrives, “Hand will be arraigned at Plymouth District Court and charged with Tracy’s murder.”
Shortly after the arrest, Col. Kerry Gilpin, the superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police and Tracy’s older sister, issued a statement thanking all involved in helping to solve the murder and find justice for her sister.
“For the past three decades, we have remained hopeful that Tracy’s murderer would be identified,” she said. “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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