After three decades, there has finally been an arrest in the gruesome murder of 15-year-old Tracy Gilpin in 1986. Michael Hand was taken into custody on March 9, 2018 in North Carolina. We have the details.
Tracy Gilpin was Massachusett’s State Police Colonel Kerry Gilpin’s sister. The two were only teenagers in ‘86. In a horrific incident, Tracy Gilpin’s decomposing body was found three weeks after her disappearance in a makeshift grave in a Plymouth forest. Here’s what happened to Tracy Gilpin.
Late Night Party Gone Wrong?
Tracy Gilpin was described as a “mischievous” and fun-loving girl when she disappeared at the age of 15. Her devastated family, especially her sister Kerry Gilpin, tried their best to find the girl’s murderer.
On Friday, Michael Hand, 61, was taken into custody after being linked to Tracy Gilpin’s death.
Before more details surface in the trial, here’s what you need to know about what happened in 1986.
Tracy Gilpin, her sister explained, came home on October 1, 1986, at around 6:00 p.m. after finishing her babysitting job. She loved kids and was very motherly, despite being young herself.
Kerry recalled the night her sister went missing. She mentioned that Tracy spoke to their mother before informing her that she would be going to a party at a friend’s place. The party was just a couple of streets from their Kingston, Massachusetts home.
Kerry said she knew that Tracy wouldn’t be out long, figuring she’d be home by 11:00 p.m. But when she woke up the next morning, she couldn’t find her sister. However, she said it initially wasn’t “worrisome” that Tracy wasn’t home, as she would sometimes spend the night at a friend’s place.
It wasn’t until Tracy’s friends began calling and asking where she was that her family grew concerned.
Panic struck the Gilpin family and they reported Tracy missing.
Three weeks later, her body was found.
At the time, Kerry and her cousin Don worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield in Massachusetts. When Tracy was found, Kerry’s name was called on the company’s intercom to go to the lobby. She was accompanied by Don when they went down to the lobby, secretly hoping for a miracle.
Her mother was in the lobby, and when Kerry saw her crying, her heart sank. Later, she learned that Tracy’s half-clothed body was found in Myles Standish State Forest, inside a poorly dug grave.
The body was already badly decomposed, but authorities were able to figure out Tracy’s cause of death, after noting her skull was cracked from blunt force trauma to her head.
Where Did Michael Hand Live?
Now, 31 years since the death of Tracy Gilpin, justice may have finally arrived. Authorities said that the case was unlike many other, and instead of using technological advances to investigate the case, they had to take a different approach.
Though the details of why Tracy was murdered are still unknown, Kerry hopes her sister didn’t suffer.
Before the arrest, the Gilpin family offered a reward for those who had information about Tracy’s death. The initial reward was $10,000, but it was later increased to $25,000. Kerry and her family hope that someone has information that can help convict Tracy’s murderer.
Michael Hand reportedly lived in a ranch-style home in Troutman, North Carolina for the last decade.
After his arrest on March 9, his neighbors were asked about his behavior. One of them, Steve Suther, said, “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.”
Hand was taken to Iredell County Sheriff’s Department. He will appear in an Iredell District County court on Monday, March 12, 2018.