Suspect in 30-year-old murder says different man was responsible

KINGSTON, Mass. – The man suspected of killing a teenager in Kingston more than 30 years ago said police had the wrong guy according to investigators who interviewed him.

Michael Hand was arrested in North Carolina and charged with the 1986 murder of 15-year-old Tracy Gilpin.

Tracy disappeared after going to the store to get cigarettes. Her body was discovered weeks later in Myles Standish State Forest after her skull had been crushed by a 73-pound boulder.

When 61-year-old Hand was arrested, he allegedly told Massachusetts detectives that a different Kingston man, Henry Meinholz, was actually responsible.

Hand said he saw Tracy get into a car with Meinholz, and later was with Meinholz in the forest where Tracy was killed.

“He said he had picked up the rock and he turned back to Mr. Meinholz, dropped the rock two feet and he heard a thud. When he looked the rock was on Ms. Gilpin's head,” assistant district attorney Jennifer Sprague said.

According to investigators, Hand said that on the night she disappeared, Tracy made a sexual advance on then 29-year-old Meinholz, but was rejected.

Meinholz has since died, but he was convicted for the 1990 murder of 13-year-old Melissa Benoit.

Afterwards the hearing, District Attorney Timothy Cruz said he's confident Hand is Tracy Gilpin's killer.

“I don’t arrest people for homicide unless I’m sure the person did it. And I think on the totality of the circumstances that we have right now, we have the individual involved in the homicide of Tracy Gilpin,” Cruz said.

Tracy's sister Kerry Gilpin was at the arraignment when Hand pleaded not guilty. Kerry is currently the colonel of the Massachusetts State Police.

There is DNA evidence from the case, and investigators say that evidence has ruled out Meinholz as a suspect. Hand’s genetic material has been sent to a criminal lab but results have not been returned.

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