Michael Hand, a 61-year-old man living in North Carolina, has been arrested for the 1986 murder of Massachusetts teenager Tracy Gilpin.
We have the latest news on the Tracy Gilpin case, with details on who Mark Hand is, and what alleged connections he may have to Gilpin and the Massachusetts area where Gilpin was murdered.
Who Is Michael Hand?
Michael Hand is a 61-year-old man who was living in Troutman, North Carolina, a small town of approximately 2,500 people, at the time of his arrest. That being said, Hand apparently has a number of connections to the Kingston, Massachusetts area.
Records show that he is the son of Arthur Hand, a former assistant principal from the Silver Lake school region. Similar records seem to indicate that Michael Hand attended Silver Lake High School in Kingston.
Beyond that, details on Michael Hand are currently slim. He appears to have no social media presence.
When The Boston Globe contacted Hand’s various neighbors in North Carolina, many of the comments about him regarded two subjects: No one exactly knows what he did before moving to North Carolina, and he apparently had a small stockpile of firearms.
Eighty-one-year-old Shirley Parker remarked to The Boston Globe that “I don’t know what he really did. He said he went to chef’s school and worked at numerous jobs… He had a lot of guns.”
Sixty-eight-year-old Calvin Ostwalt told The Globe, “You learned not to trust him. He would say that the reason he was here in Troutman was on witness protection.”
Hand would have been in his early 30s at the time of Gilpin’s death.
The Disappearance of Tracy Gilpin
On October 1, 1986, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Gilpin left a party with two of her friends. The two friends lived close to one another and closer to the party. When they got to their homes, the two girls left Gilpin to continue walking by herself.
Shortly after that, Gilpin stopped at a convenience store where she bought a pack of cigarettes and used a payphone. She called the party host in the hopes she would come and pick her up, as she didn’t want to walk home alone. The host told Gilpin that there were still guests at the party and she was unable to leave. With that, at approximately 11:00 p.m., Gilpin walked off into the darkness and disappeared.
A Murder That Went Cold for over 30 Years
Tracy Gilpin remained missing for 21 days until a hiker discovered her body in Myles Standish State Forest in Plymouth, Massachusetts, 14 miles away from where she was last seen.
Gilpin was brutally murdered and her body left in a makeshift grave in the park. She had most died due to a horrible blow to the head that fractured her skull.
Related: Tracy Gilpin Wiki
At the time, there wasn’t much in the way of evidence. A neighbor recalled hearing what sounded like a scream and a car squealing away on the night of Gilpin’s disappearance. There was very little physical evidence left at the site where the body was found.
Despite a $10,000 reward that was later increased to $25,000, leads were few and far between. The case went through a number of investigators and a number of different areas of the police department. But for 30 years, no one was caught for the crime.
This changed on March 9, 2018, when Michael Hand was arrested in North Carolina for Tracy Gilpin’s murder. It’s unknown what new evidence led to the arrest.
Tracy Gilpin’s sister, Kerry Gilpin, who is now a Massachusetts State Police colonel, released a statement on behalf of her family. As part of that statement, Gilpin said the following:
“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.”
Hand is expected in court in North Carolina on the morning of Monday, March 12 as part of the legal process of transferring him into the care of Massachusetts officials.