N.H. Girl, 11, Was Killed After Wandering Away from Her Mother in 1988, Suspect ID'd as Former Officer

Melissa Ann Tremblay was found stabbed to death alongside train tracks in Lawrence, Mass.

Melissa Ann Tremblay
Melissa Ann Tremblay. Photo: Essex DA

After 33 years, authorities in Massachusetts have made an arrest in connection with the 1988 killing of 11-year-old Melissa Ann Tremblay, PEOPLE confirms.

According to a statement from the Essex District Attorney's Office, police arrested Marvin C. McClendon, Jr., 74, on Tuesday evening, charging him as a fugitive from justice.

Investigators tracked the suspect to his home in Breman, Ala., according to the statement.

The former Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer left New England after retiring in 2002.

The statement indicates "evidence recovered from the victim's body was instrumental in solving the case."

At the time of Tremblay's killing back on Sept. 12, 1988, McClendon was living in Chelmsford, Mass., and working as a carpenter. He had multiple ties to nearby Lawrence, where the New Hampshire girl's body was found alongside train tracks.

"Specifically, investigators learned that he worked and frequented establishments in the city of Lawrence, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Salem Street," explains the statement.

Marvin "Skip" McClendon
Marvin "Skip" McClendon. Cullman County Sheriff's Office

Authorities said that Tremblay "accompanied her mother and mother's boyfriend to the LaSalle Social Club at 397 Andover Street in Lawrence" on Sept. 11, 1988.

"While her mother and mother's boyfriend remained inside the club, Melissa played in the adjacent neighborhoods and was last seen by a railroad employee and pizza delivery driver during the late afternoon hours," the statement reads.

That night, Melissa's mother and her boyfriend searched the entire area before reporting her missing.

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Tremblay was found the next day, stabbed to death.

Her body had been left on the tracks, and a train struck the girl's body.

McClendon remains in the custody of the Cullman County Sheriff's Office. He will be arraigned today in Alabama.

Information on his lawyer was not immediately available.

Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett told reporters Tremblay's relatives were "very relieved" to learn of the arrest.

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