An Alabama resident pled not guilty on Thursday to the 1988 slaying of an 11-year-old New Hampshire girl in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Marvin C. McClendon Jr., 75, is being held without bail while he awaits the trial in relation to a 34-year-old murder. He’s due back in Essex County Superior Court in Salem, Massachusetts, late next month.

The Breman resident is charged with the death of 11-year-old Melissa Ann Tremblay, who was found in a trainyard on Sept. 12, 1988, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the day after she was reported missing. According to authorities, she had been stabbed, and her body had been run over by a train.

McClendon, who retired as a Massachusetts corrections officer in 2022, has been living in Alabama since shortly after his retirement.

McClendon was extradited to Massachusetts in May, 34 years after the murder. He was linked to the murder after an Essex cold case unit found a DNA match.

The cold case unit at the Essex district attorney’s office has been working on the case since 2014, and McClendon has long been considered a “person of interest,” authorities said. A DNA profile of a suspect taken from the girl’s body was linked to McClendon, although further details on the nature of the DNA collected are not being released.

McClendon’s lawyers have suggested the DNA may belong to another member of the McClendon family. Prosecutors argued that most of his family live in Alabama and have never been to Massachusetts.

Additionally, authorities claim a van spotted near the scene of the murder was similar to a van that McClendon drove at the time.

According to prosecutors, McClendon was doing carpentry at the time of the murder. He also worked and attended church in Lawrence, the city where the body was discovered.

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