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An 11-year-old girl was murdered in 1988. Authorities say they’ve found the man who did it.

“I will tell you that he has been a person of interest for a period of time.”

Melissa Tremblay was 11 years old when she was murdered in Lawrence in 1988. Essex District Attorney

An Alabama man has been charged with the murder of an 11-year-old girl who was found dead in a railway yard in Lawrence back in 1988, authorities announced Wednesday.

Marvin C. “Skip” McClendon Jr., 74, of Bremen, Alabama, was arrested Tuesday in connection with the killing of Melissa Ann Tremblay almost 34 years ago. He is expected to be arraigned in an Alabama court on Thursday, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said during a Wednesday a press conference.

Tremblay, who lived in Salem, New Hampshire, was found dead in a Boston & Maine Railway yard near Andover Street and South Broadway on Sept. 12, 1988, authorities said.

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“She had been stabbed to death,” Blodgett said.

After she died, Tremblay’s body was struck by a train and her left leg severed.

Before she went missing, Tremblay was reportedly playing in the neighborhoods near the LaSalle social club in Lawrence while her mother and her mother’s boyfriend visited the establishment. Afterward, they searched for Melissa, but couldn’t find her. She was then reported missing.

McClendon, who lived in Chelmsford at the time of the murder, had multiple ties to the area, including employment, Blodgett said. While he said he wasn’t sure if McClendon worked there at the time, the DA noted that the 74-year-old is a retired corrections officer.

According to the DA’s office, McClendon was employed by the Massachusetts Department Corrections on three separate occasions between 1970 and 2002. He was doing carpentry work at the time of the 11-year-old’s murder.

While Blodgett said he couldn’t elaborate on what led authorities to McClendon, he said the evidence pointed to him and deferred to information that will reportedly come out in the arraignment.

“I can’t say if he was surprised when he was interviewed in Alabama,” Blodgett said. “I will tell you that he has been a person of interest for a period of time.”

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Blodgett also couldn’t say if McClendon knew the family or if the attack was random.

“This case has been pursued, I would suggest to you, in a very diligent fashion since 1988, since we discovered her body,” Blodgett said.

He added that authorities “continued to pursue evidence and leads” after the murder.

Tremblay’s family, aunts, and a cousin, were notified of the arrest, Blodgett said.

The girl’s mother has since passed away.

Blodgett described the arrest as “extremely gratifying.”

“We will take every effort that we have to pursue justice,” he said. 

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