A registered sex offender was arrested for the cold case murder of a 16-year-old Maine teenager after he allegedly provided police with numerous different accounts of what happened and complicated the investigation, officials said.
Joyce McLain went out for a jog in 1980 and never returned to her East Millinocket home. She was found bludgeoned to death, her body only wearing shoes and socks when it was discovered behind a school in her hometown two days later.
It would take nearly 36 years before police would nab suspect Philip Scott Fournier, 55, a registered sex offender who was interviewed by authorities more than 22 times.
“We’re confident that (Philip) Scott Fournier is the one who murdered Joyce McClain,” Maine State Police Col. Robert Williams told reporters after his Friday arrest.
Fournier was released from prison just over a year ago, after serving 6 1/2 years for possession of child pornography. During his sentencing for that incident, Fournier was urged to tell authorities if he knew anything about McLean’s death, the Bangor Daily News reported at the time.
“If you know anything about that case,” U.S. District Judge John Woodcock told Fournier, “I urge you to think long and hard about telling the police. That case has hung like a dark cloud over that community and been very painful for many people. If you can help people in that community remove that cloud, I would urge you to do that.”
Fournier had reportedly provided police with numerous accounts of his connection to McLain’s killing, saying at times that he witnessed others abduct the teen or that he was forced to help take her.
"I thought at one time I may have killed her, but now I don't think I did it because it's just not me. It's not something I would do. There are parts of that night that I don't remember," Fournier allegedly told police during one of their many interviews.
"One of the reasons the case progressed slowly is we had to work through what he told us various times," Williams said.
Fournier also allegedly confessed to his parents and his pastor, saying that he "did something beyond comprehension," according to the arrest affidavit filed by police.
“I am sorry momma. I did it. I killed Joyce McLain,” Fournier’s mother told police in 2014 her son said before he began crying.
“I didn’t mean to,” she told police he said.
In a 1989 interview, Fournier’s pastor told police he came to the church years earlier and “confessed to him that he had killed Joyce,” the affidavit said.
“Fournier stated he hit McLain in the back of the head. Fournier stated he tried to have sex with McLain, but that it was the wrong time of the month,” the pastor said.
McLain's boy was exhumed and taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office for re-examination in 2008, Maine State Police said in a statement.
"Since that time, the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory and a team of detectives from the Major Crimes Unit, working closely with the Office of the Attorney General, has comprehensively reviewed and supplemented the historical investigation with forensic testing, witness interviews and re-interviews and a number of crime scene searches," Maine State Police said in a statement. "Those renewed efforts resulted in the issuance of an arrest warrant and affidavit late yesterday for Fournier."
He is expected in court on Monday. He has not yet entered a plea.
Police asked that anyone who Fournier may have allegedly confided in about the case contact the Maine State Police Major Crime Unit at 1-800-432-7381.
This is the second longest homicide investigation the State Police have conducted that resulted in arrest, officials said.