Former Massachusetts corrections officer Marvin McClendon was stabbed in the 1988 murder of 11-year-old Melissa Tremblay

A retired corrections officer has been arrested in the murder of an 11-year-old girl in New Hampshire more than three decades after she was stabbed to death, authorities announced Wednesday.

Marvin Carlton “Skip” McClendon, Jr., Jr., 74, was arrested Tuesday night at his home in Bremen, Alabama, according to an announcement by Essex, Massachusetts District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett. He was accused of murdering Melissa Ann Tremblay in 1988 and throwing her on the railroad yard in Lawrence, Massachusetts. After her death, a delivery truck drove past Tremblay, severing her left leg.

“It was brutal and horrible, and… people [I eventually became] had so much to do with her, and to lose her in such a brutal way,” Andrea Ganley, a childhood friend of Tremblay, told The Daily Beast.

McClendon, who worked for the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, is currently being held at the Cullman County, Alabama detention center, Deputy Chad Whaley confirmed to The Daily Beast.

On September 11, 1988, Tremblay accompanied her mother and her mother’s boyfriend to LaSalle Social Club in Lawrence, Massachusetts, about a 20-minute drive from their home in Salem, New Hampshire. At some point in the afternoon, Tremblay went out to play while the adults frolicked in the club. They never saw her again.

After frantically searching the area, Tremblay’s mother and her boyfriend announced that she was missing. The girl’s body was discovered the next day. Investigators questioned the “scores of witnesses, suspects and persons of interest” over the ensuing weeks, months and years, Blodgett said.

After that, the case turned cold.

In 2014, a team of assistant district attorneys and state police detectives specializing in unsolved crimes redoubled their efforts in the Tremblay case, according to the Essex County DA’s Office.

Investigators learned that McClendon was living in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, about 16 miles from Lawrence, at the time Tremblay was killed. He is a carpenter and “works and frequents properties in the city of Lawrence, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Salem Road,” the DA office said in a press release. Evidence recovered from Tremblay’s body was “tool for solving the case,” it said.

McClendon “has been a man of interest for a while,” Blodgett told reporters.

In an email, a spokeswoman for the Essex County District Attorney’s Office, Carrie Kimball, told The Daily Beast she was unable to comment further on the specifics of the evidence providing breakdowns in the case, but details. that will be given when he arranges.

Tremblay, a sixth grader at Lancaster School in Salem, New Hampshire, at the time of her death, “will forever be an 11-year-old,” said Ganley, who has for years pressed authorities to resolve her matter. my friend. said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Ganley, four years younger than Tremblay, told The Daily Beast she’s been going through “an emotional rollercoaster ride” since learning of McClendon’s arrest.

“I was shocked at first,” Ganley said. “I am still in shock. The day is really here, and it’s actually happening. We always hoped this day would happen… Sometimes you lose hope, but I want other families and friends to be victims of what is now known as the ‘cold case’ – never give up hope. “

Notorious serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells, who confessed to 13 murders in seven states and was executed by lethal injection in 2014, was at one point seen as a potential suspect. But the railroad carnival worker was later arrested, and detectives continue to hope for a solid lead.

Ganley said she had never heard McClendon’s name prior to the public announcement of his arrest and that investigators had never taken him out before.

“While it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions, grief, and happiness for which someone will be held accountable, it’s shocking that he’s a church corrections officer,” Ganley said. “The fact that he’s a member of law enforcement has never happened to any of us.”

Over the years, Ganley said she always wondered who could kill her friend so heartlessly.

“People don’t just kill one when you’re a predator,” she said. “It’s not an uncle or a parent or anything like that, so what kind of person would do this? How did she cross his path? Is he stalking her? Had he happened to meet her that day? Are there other families waiting to close? There are a lot of unanswered questions.”

McClendon’s arrest clearly didn’t bring Tremblay back, Ganley admitted. But, she explained, witnessing him handcuffed opens the door to what she identifies as the second stage of the grieving process. “

Tremblay “touched so many lives,” Ganley said, adding, “Everybody at school knows Missy.”

“Her mother passed away a few years ago, her father is very disconnected [and] I don’t know if he’s still alive,” explained Ganley. “I know a cousin… I share their pain. I’m so glad they’re over, I’m happy for it all [of Tremblay’s] friend. People of all ages, her friends, all the school staff, Salem Boys and Girls Club — everyone’s life is affected by this. ”

As for McClendon, Ganley is eagerly awaiting more details along with the others.

“What made him do this?” she asked. “If he’s the parent, that’s what I want to know. If he has kids, I feel terrible for them.”

Detective Thomas Murphy was the main investigator in the case in 1988. After he retired, his son joined the force and followed the progress of the investigation. During a press conference Wednesday, Blodgett thanked the Essex State Police Detective Unit, the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, the FBI, Tewksbury, the Massachusetts Executive, the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigation. Alabama for their “tireless” work. He was also particularly attentive to calling on Murphy for help, he had witnessed the incident from day one.

“I want to thank everyone who participated in this investigation from start to finish,” Blodgett said. “Their tireless pursuit of justice for Melissa has brought us to this point. We will never forget Melissa, nor will we give up on blaming her killer. “

McClendon is scheduled to be scheduled on Thursday in an Alabama courtroom. Former Massachusetts corrections officer Marvin McClendon was stabbed in the 1988 murder of 11-year-old Melissa Tremblay


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