Authorities believe they have solved a cold case murder going back more than three decades. Authorities say Marvin “Skip” C. McClendon Jr., now 74 and a former corrections officer, stabbed Melissa Ann Tremblay to death in 1988.
“Melissa has never been forgotten,” Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett said in a press conference Wednesday.
According to officials, Tremblay—of Salem, New Hampshire—was with her mom and her mom’s boyfriend at the LaSalle Social Club in the nearby Massachusetts city of Lawrence on Sept. 11, 1988.
“While her mother and mother’s boyfriend remained inside the club, Melissa played in the adjacent neighborhoods and was last seen by a railroad employee and pizza delivery driver during the late afternoon hours,” Blodgett said.
That night, the mother and her boyfriend frantically searched and reported her missing to local police, Blodgett said.
Tremblay was found dead the next day at the old Boston & Maine Railway Yard. A train car ran over her leg after her death, amputating it, Blodgett said.
“Evidence recovered from the victim’s body was instrumental to solving this case,” the district attorney said.
McClendon was arrested Tuesday in Bremen, Alabama, officials said. He was arrested, charged as a fugitive from justice, and is in the custody of the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office.
McClendon in 1988 lived in nearby Chelmsford, Massachusetts and had “multiple ties to Lawrence,” including the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Salem Street, Blodgett said. The 74-year-old is a former corrections officer for the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, though the D.A. was unclear as to whether he was one at the time of the murder.
Members of Blodgett’s office contacted members of Melissa’s family Tuesday night and Wednesday morning to tell them of the arrest. A reporter noted that the girl’s mother has passed away. Blodgett said they were in contact with aunts and a cousin.
Citing the upcoming arraignment set for Thursday, he declined to elaborate on the evidence against McClendon.
“We believe we have the right person,” he said.
[Images via Essex County District Attorney’s Office]
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