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    Tracy Gilpin’s alleged killer won’t challenge extradition

    Tracy Gilpin (in photo) was killed in October 1986.
    Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/File
    Tracy Gilpin (in photo) was killed in October 1986.

    The man accused of murdering 15-year-old Tracy Gilpin in Massachusetts in 1986 will not contest his extradition from North Carolina to face the charges.

    Michael A. Hand, 61, waived extradition during a brief hearing Monday in Iredell County District Court, officials said.

    Hand was arrested Friday at his home in Troutman, N.C. on a fugitive warrant in the slaying of Gilpin, the sister of current Massachusetts State Police Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin.

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    A court official in North Carolina said Hand represented himself during Monday’s brief hearing.

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    Beth Stone, a spokeswoman for Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz’s office, said in an e-mail that authorities on Monday afternoon were “in the process of returning to Massachusetts with him. He will be arraigned in Plymouth District Court upon his return to Massachusetts. There is no timeframe with the weather.”

    Family members reported Tracy Gilpin missing Oct. 1, 1986, when she failed to return home after going to a party in Kingston. She left the party with friends, who went to their own homes. Gilpin stopped to buy cigarettes and then disappeared. A woman offered her a ride, but Tracy declined, saying she was going to walk.

    Her body was found three weeks later at Myles Standish State Forest in nearby Plymouth covered with brush. The cause of death was found to be a massive skull fracture. There was a large boulder on her head. Her pants and shoes were missing. Her mother identified her by her jewelry.

    Law enforcement officials haven’t said what led them to Hand, who was 29 and living on Brookdale Street, about 5 miles from Gilpin’s home, when the teenager was slain. Last year, the Gilpin family boosted the reward for information leading to the teenager’s killer from $10,000 to $25,000.

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    A Massachusetts State Police spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Monday.

    In Gilpin’s old neighborhood in Kingston, a tightly packed community of clapboard homes on a hill sloping toward the water where the Jones River meets Kingston Bay, people were hoping that the arrest is a step toward justice.

    Harriett King, whose sister used to hire Gilpin as a babysitter in the 1980s, said the neighborhood was devastated by the disappearance.

    “The fact that they ... finally have enough evidence to pick somebody up for it is a great thing,” King said.

    In another section of Kingston on Monday, a long-time friend of Hand’s described him as an unusual but kind man who was a good companion.

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    “A lot of people considered him a little strange because he just did his own thing,” said Tom Nava, who lives next door to Hand’s family home.

    Nava said he visited Hand in North Carolina a few months ago, and also spoke to him recently. Hand never mentioned the case.

    He did a number of things for money, including breeding dogs and collecting junk cars and parts to sell for scrap, Nava said. Sometimes Hand’s yard would grow cluttered with his acquisitions, according to Nava. He said Hand was a large man who could lift auto parts weighing hundreds of pounds.

    Even local police were on friendly terms with Hand, Nava said.

    He recalled taking target practice in Kingston several years ago with Hand when a police officer poked his head into the yard in the rural area and spotted Hand, who collected firearms.

    Nava said the officer told him, “Oh, you’re with Mike? You’re all set.”

    “He was well known,” Nava added.

    He said he was still processing the allegations, and hoping to learn how police linked Hand to the killing.

    “Mike’s done a lot of stupid things, but I don’t think murder is one of them,” he said. “He was always a good friend to me.”

    Over the weekend, Colonel Gilpin said in a statement that her family has remained hopeful for the last three decades that investigators would identify a suspect.

    “The much-welcomed news of an arrest in the case leaves us cautiously optimistic that justice for Tracy is within reach,” Colonel Gilpin said. “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.”

    In 2007 Hand sold his childhood home on Brookdale Street in Kingston, where he had been living after his parents died.

    The listed owner of Hand’s residence in Troutman, N.C. is the Brookdale Realty Trust located in Kingston, according to assessing records in North Carolina.

    Hand graduated from Silver Lake Regional High School in Kingston in 1975, and a senior class photo showed him smiling in a collared shirt and jacket, as well as glasses with large frames. He was wearing similar glasses in the mugshot that police released over the weekend.

    A brief message about a car appeared beneath Hand’s senior class picture in 1975.

    “Ya its a race car, stomp a chevy, calico cat, it got lunch,” Hand wrote. “It’ll be out of the shop next week I hope. Super bees forever.”

    Cristela Guerra and Emily Sweeney of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.