BROCKTON, MASS. (WHDH) - A North Carolina man charged in the 1986 murder of a Massachusetts State Police colonel’s sister was ordered held without bail Wednesday at his arraignment in Brockton District Court.
Michael Hand, 61, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Tracy Gilpin. Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz said a tip led investigators to North Carolina, where Hand was arrested on Saturday. Gilpin was the sister of Col. Kerry Gilpin.
The fifteen-year-old Kingston native went missing on Oct 1. 1986. Twenty-one days later, Gilpin’s body was found buried in Myles Standish State Forest.
Hand has admitted to police that he saw Gilpin the night she disappeared, and is accused of crushing her skull with a 73-pound boulder.
“His statement puts him at the scene, puts his hands on a rock and allegedly bleeding on a rock, of which he subsequently states he picked up and dropped on the head of Ms. Gilpin,” Cruz said.
State Police say Hand blamed Gilpin’s death on convicted murderer Henry Meinholz.
“The defendant was alone on the side of the road when someone who he believes to be Mr. Meinholz came by with a shovel and a tarp. He said that the individual put those items in the car and told the defendant to go into the forest to kneel down in a clearing next to the rock and told him to touch the rock,” said Prosecutor Jennifer Sprague.
During a second interview, investigators say Hand changed his story.
“He said that he picked up the rock and he turned back to Mr. Meinholz, dropped the rock 2 feet, and heard a thud, and then when he looked, the rock was on Gilpin’s head,” Sprague said.
Testing previously cleared Meinholz of Gilpin’s murder. A DNA test will be performed on the rock to determine Hand’s connection to the crime.
Hand is due back in court on April 13.
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