Last Updated Mar 12, 2018 3:13 PM EDT
BOSTON -- A North Carolina man has been arrested in the 1986 killing of the Massachusetts State Police commander's teenage sister. Authorities say 61-year-old Michael Arthur Hand of Troutman, North Carolina, was arrested Friday and faces a murder charge in the death of 15-year-old high school freshman Tracy Gilpin.
The victim is the sister of current state police Col. Kerry Gilpin. CBS Boston station WBZ-TV reports that many cite the crime as the turning point that led her to a life in law enforcement.
Gilpin said the arrest "leaves us cautiously optimistic that justice for Tracy is within reach."
Tracy Gilpin, of Kingston, Massachusetts, disappeared on Oct. 1, 1986. Her body was found in Myles Standish State Forest in Plymouth three weeks later.
District Attorney Timothy Cruz says Tracy died from a "massive skull fracture."
It was not immediately clear if Hand has a lawyer.
Authorities are moving forward with the legal process of returning Hand to Massachusetts.
Gilpin released a statement following Hand's arrest, saying:
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…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.