Marvin (‘Skip’) McLendon Jr., 74, was arrested on April 26, 2022 for the 1988 murder of 11-year-old Melissa Tremblay in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He was apprehended in Bremen, Alabama and extradited to Massachusetts.
Tremblay’s body was found on September 12, 1988 in a railway yard near Andover and South Broadway. She had been stabbed. She was run over by a freight car after her death, which resulted in her left leg being severed. Footprints and blood were found at the scene.
On the evening of September 11, 1988, her mother and a boyfriend had gone to the LaSalle Social Club and left Tremblay to play in the rail yard outside. She was last seen there by a pizza delivery driver in the late afternoon. At 9 pm that evening, her mother could not find her and reported her missing to police.
The source of the biological sample used to generate a suspect profile has not yet been disclosed, but it is described as having been taken from Tremblay’s body. A DNA profile was generated, including a Y-STR profile. This was then matched to several male persons with the last name McClendon.
The FGG investigation was conducted by Colleen Fitzpatrick of Identifinders International in partnership with the Lawrence Police Department. Fitzpatrick states that she examined the suspect’s Y-STR profile in the genealogical databases, coming up with the possible last name of ‘McClendon’. Fitzpatrick contrasts this with what she calls ‘big FIGG’ testing, which uses a full SNP panel, and states that Y-STRs (which might be called ‘mini-FIGG’) can still help identify a suspect, even in cases where there is no further DNA for SNP sequencing.
McClendon is retired from the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. He is described as having multiple ties to Lawrence, and as owning a vehicle consistent with witness statements that described Tremblay as speaking with a man in a van.
McClendon was indicted on charges of first-degree murder by a grand jury on June 15, 2022, and the charges against him will now proceed in Essex County Superior Court.
Fortier, Marc. “‘Melissa Has Never Been Forgotten’: Ex-Corrections Employee Arrested in 1988 Murder of New Hampshire Girl.” NBC News 10 Boston, April 27, 2022. Accessed March 25, 2023. https://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/da-to-announce-arrest-in-1988-murder-of-11-year-old-melissa-tremblay-in-lawrence/2704770/.
Identifinders International. “Going into the #IdentifindersVault to revisit the 1988 murder of 11-year-old Melissa Tremblay.” Identifinders International (Facebook post), March 23, 2023. Accessed March 25, 2023. https://www.facebook.com/identifinders.
Kalmbacher, Colin. “‘A Frail Old Man’: Former Mass. Corrections Officer Charged in 1988 Cold Case Murder of 11-Year-Old Girl Whose Body was Left on Train Tracks.” Law & Crime, May 13, 2022. Accessed March 25, 2023. https://lawandcrime.com/crime/a-frail-old-man-former-mass-corrections-officer-charged-in-1988-cold-case-murder-of-11-year-old-girl-whose-body-was-left-on-train-tracks/.
Lambe, Jerry. “Former Corrections Officer Indicted in 1988 Cold Case Murder of 11-Year-Old Girl.” Law & Crime, June 16, 2022. Accessed March 25, 2023. https://lawandcrime.com/crime/former-corrections-officer-indicted-in-1988-cold-case-murder-of-11-year-old-girl/.