An Alabama man who was arrested earlier this week in connection with the 1988 stabbing death of an 11-year-old girl in Lawrence has been ordered held without bail.
Marvin C. McClendon, Jr., 74, of Breman, Ala., was extradited to the Bay State and arraigned Friday in Lawrence District Court on a charge of murder in the death of Salem, New Hampshire, native Melissa Tremblay, according to Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.
On Sept. 12, 1988, Tremblay’s body was discovered in the former Boston & Maine railway yard near Andover Street and South Broadway in Lawrence. Investigators say she had been stabbed to death and then run over by a train.
Police later determined that Tremblay had accompanied her mother and mother’s boyfriend to the LaSalle Social Club on Andover Street one day earlier. While the couple remained inside the club, investigators say Tremblay played in the adjacent neighborhoods and was last seen by a railroad employee and pizza delivery driver during the late afternoon hours.
Tremblay was reported missing later that evening after her mother and mother’s boyfriend frantically searched the area.
Scores of witnesses, suspects, and persons-of-interest were interviewed by police over the years, but evidence recently recovered from the victim’s body was instrumental to solving the case, according to Blodgett’s office.
McClendon is said to have lived in Chelmsford in 1988 and had multiple ties to Lawrence. An investigation revealed that he also worked and frequented establishments in the city.
Essex Victim Advocates contacted surviving members of Tremblay’s family on Wednesday night and notified them that the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama had taken McClendon into custody.
Assistant district attorneys and state police detectives assigned to Blodgett’s office had been working on this cold case since 2014.