EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine – The 28-year-old mystery of the homicide of Joyce McLain will be investigated anew Friday when internationally renowned forensic experts Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Henry Lee examine her body.
An exhumation is scheduled for Thursday. The body will be taken to the chief medical examiner’s office in Augusta for an autopsy on Friday, said Stephen McCausland, Department of Public Safety spokesman.
Baden and Lee will receive any aid the state can provide, officials said. Autopsy expenses will be covered by the approximately $18,000 raised by the Justice For Joyce Committee, a group of concerned citizens.
“We welcome the renewed effort,” McCausland said Tuesday. “We are looking at this as a renewal of our own investigation and we are as committed to solving this as we were 28 years ago.”
A 16-year-old Schenck High School sophomore, McLain 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.
To help Baden and Lee and prepare for their arrival, four state police detectives who were the lead investigators on the McLain case met in Bangor last week to discuss the case, McCausland said. East Millinocket Police Chief Twig Cramp and his predecessor also attended the meeting.
The chief forensic pathologist for the New York State Police and host of HBO’s “Autopsy” series, Baden has been a medical examiner for 45 years. He has performed more than 20,000 autopsies and helped with congressional reinvestigations in the 1970s of the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
One of the world’s top criminologists, Lee is known for his work on the O.J. Simpson murder case and the rape trial of William Kennedy Smith in 1991. He also was pivotal in Maine’s first trial involving DNA.
Lee was the state’s key witness in the murder trial of David Fleming in 1995. Fleming was convicted of the 1990 murder of 18-year-old Lisa Garland of Bangor. Her body was found in an Alton gravel pit, and semen retrieved from her body was identified as Fleming’s.
Since it was the first time that DNA evidence was allowed into a state trial court, the case was eventually reviewed in several appeal courts before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld Fleming’s conviction. The case established legal precedent for DNA evidence in Maine.
Baden and Lee are becoming involved in the McLain case at the request of her mother, Pamela, who occasionally has been critical of the state police investigation. McLain rejected arguments from Deputy Attorney General William R. Stokes, who was advised by the medical examiner’s office that exhumation would likely uncover no new evidence.
Undeterred, McLain wrote Baden in November seeking his aid, and a grass-roots Katahdin organization, the Justice for Joyce Committee, raised about $18,000 to pay for the autopsy.
Baden and Lee have said they doubt the examination will be helpful, but share hope that something new or yet unseen may surface.
Pam McLain declined to comment until after the exhumation.