Lawrence, Massachusetts – She was last seen alive on a September afternoon over thirty years ago – but Melissa Tremblay’s whereabouts haven’t remained a mystery for very long.
The 11-year-old, from Salem, New Hampshire, accompanied her mother and her mother’s friend to the LaSalle Community Club on Andover Street on Sunday, September 11, 1988.
“While her mother and her mother’s friend stayed inside the club, Melissa played in the neighbourhoods,” said Jonathan Blodget, Essex County Prosecutor.
Another Blodgett who saw her said: an employee at a nearby railyard and a pizza delivery guy.
“That night, Melissa’s mother and her mother’s friend frantically searched and reported her missing to Lawrence Police at around 9 p.m.,” Blodgett said.
The next day, investigators found her body in Railyard.
“She was stabbed to death, and after the body was run over by a train car, her leg was amputated,” Blodgett said.
For years, crime has haunted state and local detectives.
“Over the years, police have questioned dozens of witnesses, suspects, and people involved,” Blodgett said. “The assistant prosecutors and state police investigators assigned to my office who specialize in cold cases have worked hard on this case since 2014.”
Finally, it looks like this has paid off. Blodgett announced the arrest of 74-year-old Marvin C. McClendon, Jr. – who now lives in Bremen, Alabama, but has 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 institutions in the city of Lawrence, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Salem Street.”
As for how investigators determine McClendon is their man — Blodgett said more details will come out during the suspect’s trial in Alabama on Thursday. For now, he has only said that evidence found from Tremblay’s body was “helpful” in solving the case.
It’s an issue that hasn’t left Andrea Ganley, Melissa Tremblay’s elementary school girlfriend. She called Boston 25 News the last time she saw her friend alive.
“We parted ways off the field,” Ganley said. “Just a normal end of the week, the end of the day, the beginning of the weekend, I expect to see her again on Monday.”
But by Monday, Ganley and others at the school learned that Melissa was missing.
“A lot of the students were dazed, very anxious, and very frightened,” she said.
Hours later, investigators found the little girl’s body.
“They informed the teachers and the teachers informed the students,” Ganley recalls. “It was awful. It was awful.”
Ganley said she was “shocked and exhausted” by the news of the arrest.
“I’ve been waiting for this pretty much my whole life,” she said. “I didn’t know this day would actually happen.”
If the suspect killed Melissa Tremblay, Ganley said, he shouldn’t have seen the light of day.
“I know they will never know what they took from everyone who loved her,” she said. “Whoever did this and what happened to her is evil. It was very evil.”
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