BROCKTON (CBS) – The man charged with murdering Massachusetts State Police Col. Kerry Gilpin’s sister in 1986 appeared in a Massachusetts courtroom for the first time on Wednesday.
Tracy Gilpin went missing on October 1, 1986, and was found dead of a skull fracture 21 days later. She was 15 years old.
Michael Hand, 61, was arrested Saturday in North Carolina in connection with Tracy’s death. An unspecified tip led officers to Hand.
Prosecutors say Hand blamed Henry Meinholz for Gilpin’s death. Meinholz, who died in 2000, was convicted in the murder of 13-year-old Melissa Benoit.
According to the prosecution, Hand admitted to police that he knew Gilpin from the neighborhood and saw her the night she disappeared. He changed his story multiple times but then admitted to police that he went into the woods with Gilpin.
“He eventually picked up the rock and he turned back to Mr. Meinholz and dropped the rock two feet. He heard a thud and then when he looked the rock was on Ms. Gilpin’s head,” said Plymouth Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Sprague in court.
That rock, investigators said, was a 73-pound boulder. A DNA test will be performed on the rock to determine if it links Hand to the murder. Hand identified the rock to investigators in evidence photos.
Hand was ordered held without bail after pleading not guilty to one count of murder. A probable cause hearing is scheduled for April 13.
When Col. Gilpin was appointed to her role earlier this year, she said her sister’s unsolved murder was the reason she wanted to go into law enforcement.
Hand’s arraignment was slated to take place in Plymouth District Court. It was moved to Brockton due to a power outage.
Gilpin and other family members were in the courtroom for Hand’s arraignment.
“As you can see by the turnout of her family today, they haven’t forgotten Tracy and I wanted to make sure that nobody else did either,” said District Attorney Timothy Cruz.