McLain says police working hard to solve daughter’s death

Posted Feb. 09, 2009, at 5:15 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 11:06 a.m.

EAST MILLINOCKET — State police are working “almost daily” on the unsolved 28-year-old homicide of Joyce McLain, and still are analyzing large amounts of evidence found when her body was exhumed in August, the victim’s mother said Monday.

Speaking after a visit to town Thursday by Maj. Dale Lancaster and Lt. Jackie Theriault, Pamela McLain said she wanted to assure contributors to her successful $20,000 effort to have the body exhumed and examined last August that their contributions were not in vain.

“I really knew that they were going to give it their all five months ago. That had not changed much,” McLain said Monday, “but the public needs to know. I believe they [state police] are working hard on it. They are giving it their all, but the public raised the money. They [contributors] have to be assured that it is still ongoing.”

Theriault is the commanding officer for the State Police Northern Criminal Division and Lancaster oversees the State Police Criminal Division, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Speaking through a statement released by McCausland, the officers described their meeting with McLain as positive, one in which information was shared.

A 16-year-old Schenck High School sophomore, Joyce McLain was killed sometime around the night of Aug. 8, 1980, apparently while jogging. Her body was found two days later in a power line clearing near the school’s soccer fields. Her head and neck had been hit with a blunt object.

Several suspects have been investigated — McLain places the number as high as 14 — but there have been no arrests. At least four detectives have handled the case through the years, and state police Sgt. Troy Gardner, the case’s primary investigator, has worked with several other detectives who have been on the case almost full time since September, McCausland has said.

Thursday’s meeting resulted from statements McLain made Jan. 28 in which vented frustration at hearing no progress in the investigation from detectives despite fresh evidence unearthed by Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Henry Lee on Aug. 29. The two internationally renowned forensic experts were paid with $20,000 she and a citizens’ group helped raise over almost two years after the Maine State Attorney General’s Office declined to pursue the exhumation, citing the unlikelihood of finding fresh evidence.

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