LORENZO, Mass. She was last seen alive on a September afternoon over thirty years ago, but where Melissa Tremblay was hasn’t remained a mystery for long.
The 11-year-old from Salem, NH accompanied her mother and her mother’s boyfriend to the LaSalle Social Club on Andover Street on Sunday, September 11, 1988.
“While her mother and her mother’s boyfriend were inside the club, Melissa played in adjacent neighborhoods,” said Jonathan Blodgett, Essex County District Attorney.
Last to see, Blodgett said: a clerk at a nearby train yard and a pizza delivery man.
“That night, Melissa’s mother and her mother’s boyfriend frantically searched and reported her missing to Lawrence police at around 9pm,” Blodgett said.
The next day, investigators found his body in the train yard.
“She was stabbed to death and, after death, her body was hit by a train car, causing her leg to be amputated,” Blodgett said.
For years, the crime has haunted state and local investigators.
“Over the years, dozens of witnesses, suspects and people of interest have been interviewed by the police,” Blodgett said. “Assistant District Attorneys and State Police investigators assigned to my office who specialize in cold cases have worked diligently on this case since 2014.”
In the end, it seems to have paid off. Blodgett announced the arrest of 74-year-old Marvin C. McClendon, Jr – who now lives in Bremen, Alabama, but with local connections.
“The investigation found that the suspect lived in Chelmsford in 1988 and had multiple ties to Lawrence,” Blodgett said. “Specifically, investigators learned that he worked and frequented factories in the city of Lawrence, including the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Salem Street.”
As for how investigators determined McClendon is their man, Blodgett said further details would come out during the suspect’s summons in Alabama on Thursday. For now, he would only say that the evidence recovered from Tremblay’s body was “instrumental” to solving the case.
It is a coincidence that Andrea Ganley, an elementary school friend of Melissa Tremblay, never left. She remembered for Boston 25 News the last time she saw her friend alive.
“We got separated from the playground,” Ganley said. “Just a typical weekend, end of day, early weekend, expecting to see you again on Monday.”
But by Monday, Ganley and others at the school knew that Melissa was missing.
“A lot of the students were distressed, very worried, very scared,” he said.
Hours later, investigators found the girl’s body.
“They informed the teachers and the teachers informed the students,” Ganley recalled. “It was incredible. It was incredible.”
Ganley said she was “shocked and overwhelmed” by the news of the arrest.
“I’ve been waiting for this pretty much my whole life,” he said. “I didn’t know this day was really going to happen.”
If the suspect killed Melissa Tremblay, he should never see the light of day, Ganley said.
“I know they will never know what they got from everyone who loved her,” she said. “The person who did this and what she was done to her is evil. She was so evil. “
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