Iredell Co. man arrested, charged in 1986 murder of a 15-year-old

Tracy Gilpin (Mass. State Police)
Tracy Gilpin (Mass. State Police)

IREDELL COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A North Carolina man was arrested and charged in connection with a 1986 murder of a 15-year-old girl.

Tracy Gilpin, 15, disappeared on October 1, 1986 and was reported missing by family members. Her body was found Oct. 22 in Myles Standish Park in Plymouth.

Gilpin's cause of death was ruled to be a homicide by a massive skull fracture.

On Friday, officials arrested Michael Hand at his home in Iredell Co. Hand was charged as a fugitive from justice based on an arrest warrant issued for the murder of Gilpin, according to police.

Over the past week investigators from the Massachusetts State Police with the assistance of the Troutman and Mooresville Police Departments conducted extensive interviews of the suspect, Michael Arthur Hand.

During these interviews, statements from Michael Hand led authorities to arrest Hand.

He was transported to the Iredell County Detention Center where he was brought before a magistrate.

He received no bond based on his charges and the possibility of being a flight risk. Hand is scheduled to appear in court Monday to determine extradition.

Hand will be transported to Massachusetts where he will be charged with with murder in the death of Gilpin, officials say.

Tracy's sister, Colonel Kerry Gilpin, the Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, issued the following statement.

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. 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.

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