Pathologist to revisit McLain case

Posted Aug. 02, 2008, at 12 a.m.

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine&nbsp-&nbspTwenty-eight years after her daughter’ s slaying, Pamela McLain has had one of her wishes granted.

Word that renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden has agreed to exhume the body of Joyce McLain and perform a second autopsy came about noon Friday in a telephone call from Baden himself, McLain said Friday in a telephone interview.

“He said it’ s going to be done sometime this month,” McLain said.

During the brief telephone call, McLain learned that Baden, chief forensic pathologist for the New York State Police, not only is planning a trip to Maine in August, but that he wants to bring along some high-profile help: Dr. Henry Lee, emeritus chief of Connecticut State Police and that state’ s former chief criminalist.

“It was more than I could have hoped for,” McLain said. Baden and Lee were two of the forensic experts she had hoped to convince to take another look at her daughter’ s case. “I never dreamed they would both do it.”

McLain said Friday that she wanted to share the news of Baden’ s interest in her daughter’ s case with the many people from the area who have supported her fight to find whoever was responsible for her daughter’ s death.

“There is new technology, primarily DNA technology that may well be able to yield some new information on this case,” Baden said Saturday morning, less than 24 hours after informing Pam McLain that he will examine her daughter’ s remains.

A grass-roots organization, The Justice For Joyce Committee, has raised more than $18,000 to cover Baden’ s expenses, which would be about $10,000, plus transportation of the remains, reinterment costs and legal fees, McLain said earlier.

The details of the exhumation and autopsy, including the times and dates, have not been set, McLain said. She said the autopsy will be conducted in Maine. She said, however, that the town of Medway, where her daughter is buried, requires a three-day notice for exhumations.

McLain said the exhumation will be private. She plans to be on hand and will invite family and perhaps a few close friends.

“It’ s going to be done with dignity and respect for Joyce,” she said. “I have to be her voice now. It’ s hard,” she said, adding that over the nearly three decades that have passed since her daughter was killed, she has learned to cope with the “highs and the lows.”

Friday’ s news definitely ranked among the “highs,” McLain said. “I knew in my heart it was going to be.” But had Baden declined to perform the second autopsy, she said, “It would not have been the end of me.”

Joyce McLain, a 16-year-old Schenck High School sophomore, was killed sometime around the night of Aug. 8, 1980. Her body was found two days later in a power line clearing about 200 feet from the school’ s soccer fields. Her head and neck had been struck repeatedly with a blunt object. Several suspects have been investigated, but no arrests have been made and the investigation remains open.

Before agreeing to exhume McLain’ s body, Baden reviewed paperwork provided by Deputy Attorney General William R. Stokes to see whether examining the body for DNA evidence would help solve the 28-year-old homicide.

McLain said earlier that she hoped Baden’ s interest in the case would increase pressure on Maine State Police to maintain efforts to find her daughter’ s killer and on witnesses to come forward with new information.

McLain said she hopes the killer might have left DNA traces in the wounds and believes there is at least a chance the body has not degraded to the extent experts say. Even if it has, the family wants to do everything it can to ensure that all leads have been pursued as far as possible.

Baden’ s decision to take a closer look at McLain’ s daughter’ s case was the second break she’ s had in the past month.

In July, she was contacted by a producer from “America’ s Most Wanted” who was interested in doing a segment on the case.

The national television exposure, however, might hinge upon being able to provide footage, such as video or home movies, of the slain teen taken from 1977 to mid-1980.

dgagnon@bangordailynews.net

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