SALEM (CBS) – Marvin McClendon, a 74-year-old man from Alabama, has been arrested for the 1988 murder of 11-year-old Melissa Tremblay in Lawrence.
At a news conference Wednesday morning, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said McClendon was arrested in Alabama Tuesday night and charged as a fugitive of justice. He will be arraigned Thursday in a court in Alabama. If he waives rendition, he will be brought back to Massachusetts to face a murder charge.
The D.A. said McClendon is a retired Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer and was doing carpentry work at the time of the murder.
Tremblay, who lived in Salem, New Hampshire, was with her mother and mother's boyfriend at a social club in Lawrence 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 off Andover Street on September 12, 1988. The case had been unsolved for more than 33 years.
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. The D.A. said 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.
"This is a pleasant surprise," Tremblay's friend Andrea Ganley told WBZ-TV 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 WBZ. "She was very spunky."
Blodgett said Tremblay's surviving relatives were notified of the arrest.
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