An Alabama man has been arrested for the 1988 Lawrence murder of an 11-year-old Salem, New Hampshire girl.
Marvin "Skip" C. McClendon, Jr. is in custody in the southern state for the murder of Melissa Ann "Missy" Tremblay some 34 years ago, Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett announced late Tuesday morning.
Blodgett said McClendon, who worked in the past as a corrections officer, would be arraigned in Cullman County, Alabama tomorrow.
Melissa, a sixth-grader at the Lancaster School, was found dead on railroad tracks at the Boston & Maine freight terminal in Lawrence on Sept. 12, 1988.
Reported missing the previous day, she had been stabbed and run over by a freight car.
"It's overwhelming and shocking," said Andrea Ganley, a childhood friend of Tremblay's who advocated for further investigation of the case in recent years.
Ganley learned of the arrest in the case from reporters Tuesday morning and soon left work so she could gather more information, she said.
"I never thought this day was going to happen. There is always hope. Never give up hope," Ganley said.
While they were four years apart in age, Ganley said she and Tremblay, a happy and bubbly girl, were close friends.
"She was always friendly. ... She loved fashion and pocketbooks, Madonna and New Kids On The Block. ... I thought she was just beautiful, perfect. She had cool hair, cool clothes. I basically looked up to her," said Ganley, in a 2017 interview with The Eagle-Tribune.
In the days after Tremblay's murder, Ganley remembers all students gathering in the Lancaster school cafeteria. Friends from Tremblay's class spoke. And then the whole school sang "That's What Friends Are For," by Dionne Warwick.
"To this day, I still can't listen to that song without crying," Ganley said.
On Sept. 13, 1988, a day after Melissa's body was found, a smiling picture of the young girl with dark, feathered hair topped the front page of The Eagle-Tribune.
Then-reporter Susan Forrest wrote about how the girl's body was found face down on the railroad tracks, hidden between two trains.
A Boston & Maine worker who was making routine checks in the area spotted her around 3:45 p.m. the day before.
Melissa, she wrote, "was known to hang around the railroad tracks while her mother visited with her boyfriend at the LaSalle Social Club on Andover Street several times a week."
"Footprints and blood discovered about 65 feet from the tracks indicate that a struggle took place. There appeared to be at least one stab wound and Melissa's left leg had been severed by a train," according to the report.
The story also noted Melissa was found fully clothed and she was wearing high-topped sneakers. A small denim purse with Melissa's wallet and identification was found near her body.
Melissa's body was taken to Worcester for an autopsy. Meanwhile, state and local police scoured the area looking for witnesses. Dumpsters were searched for a murder weapon, Forrest wrote.
This is a developing story, and will be updated at gloucestertimes.com.
Jill Harmacinski may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @EagleTribJill.