Essex County

Family of Melissa Tremblay releases statement following 1988 cold case arrest

LAWRENCE, Mass. — The family of Melissa Tremblay, an 11-year-old from Salem, N.H. who was murdered in Lawrence more than 30 years ago, has released a statement following the arrest of an Alabama man.

Marvin McClendon Jr., a former Massachusetts Corrections Officer who now lives in Alabama, is accused of killing Tremblay. He will be extradited to Massachusetts to face charges next week.

“Since her murder in 1988, we have always prayed for justice.  We have never stopped thinking of Missy, despite what others, who say they are her friends, have said in the media in the past years,” Danielle Root said in a statement on behalf of Missy’s aunt, uncle and cousins. 

Melissa accompanied her mother and mother’s boyfriend to the LaSalle Social Club on Andover Street on Sunday, Sept. 11, 1988. She played in the adjacent neighborhoods while the two adults were inside the club. The last people to see Melissa alive were a pizza delivery man and an employee at a nearby railyard.

That night, Melissa’s mother and mother’s boyfriend frantically searched for her and reported her missing to the Lawrence Police, according to investigators.

“My aunt Janet may not have used the best judgement in allowing Missy to play around the neighborhood of the social club, but that is between her and God.  She loved Missy and never intended any harm to come to her,” Root said. “First and foremost we would like to thank the police who have worked so hard over the years to make sure justice was found.  Thank you to the Essex District Attorney’s Office for reaching out to us to make sure we knew what was going on.  Especially Michelle Defeo who worked hard to locate us since we have moved out of state.”

[ DA says 34-year Lawrence murder mystery solved ]

Investigators credit new technology in tying McClendon to the murder. The investigation found that he lived in Chelmsford in 1988 and had multiple ties to Lawrence, frequenting many establishments throughout the city. Evidence recovered from the little girl’s body was “instrumental” in solving this case, according to Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

Despite their loss, the surviving members of Melissa’s family are eager to receive some closure.

“We thank everyone for their prayers and so many of the kind words we have seen posted on the social media articles,” the family statement read. “We are very eager for the next steps that the Essex County DA’s office will be taking in the prosecution of Marvin McClendon.”

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