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Retired corrections officer arrested for 1988 murder of 11-year-old girl

Marvin McClendon, a 74-year-old man from Alabama, has been arrested for the 1988 murder of an 11-year-old New Hampshire girl, CBS Boston reports. McClendon is a retired Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer and was doing carpentry work at the time of Melissa Tremblay’s murder, according to Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Blodgett said McClendon was arrested in Alabama on Tuesday night and charged as a fugitive of justice. He was scheduled to be arraigned in an Alabama court Thursday. He will be brought back to Massachusetts to face a murder charge if he waives rendition.

Tremblay, who lived in Salem, New Hampshire, was with her mother and mother’s boyfriend at a social club in Lawrence, Massachusetts, shortly before she was killed. She left the club to play in nearby neighborhoods and was later found stabbed to death in a freight yard on September 12, 1988. The case had been unsolved for more than 33 years.

Melissa Tremblay.

Essex D.A. via CBS Boston

Blodgett said evidence recovered from the girl’s body led them to McClendon, but he would not provide specifics, saying more information would come out at the arraignment. However, he did add that McClendon had been a person of interest in the case “for some time.”

“Over the years, scores of witnesses, suspects, persons of interests were interviewed by police. Assistant district attorneys and State Police detectives assigned to my office, specializing in cold cases, have worked diligently on this case since 2014,” Blodgett told reporters. “The investigation found that the suspect lived in Chelmsford in 1988 and had multiple ties to Lawrence. Specifically, investigators learned that he worked and frequented establishments in Lawrence.”

It’s not clear yet if McClendon knew Tremblay or her family.

Marvin McClendon.

Cullman County Alabama Sheriff’s Office via CBS Boston

“This is a pleasant surprise,” Tremblay’s friend Andrea Ganley told CBS Boston upon hearing of the arrest. “I’m beyond shocked.”

“I think about it all the time. I think about it every day,” she said before the news conference. “To hear this is beyond amazing.”

Ganley, who was 7 years old at the time of the murder, has been hoping this day would come.

“I was starting to feel like it might not, but I still had some hope,” she said.

“She was bubbly. She was fun. She was tough,” Ganley told CBS Boston. “She was very spunky.”

Blodgett said Tremblay’s surviving relatives were notified of the arrest.

This story first appeared on CBS Boston.



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