Magazine to feature McLain murder

Posted April 01, 2009, at 8:10 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 11 a.m.

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — People magazine’s April 13 issue will feature a story on Pamela McLain’s 28-year struggle to get justice for her murdered daughter, the magazine’s editors said Wednesday.

The four-page spread retells the story of Joyce McLain, her mother and Dr. Peter Cummings, a neuropathologist for the Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and a Millinocket native who, as a boy, was fascinated with the unsolved homicide.

The writer of the article, free-lance reporter and People contributor Anne Driscoll, contacted McLain last week to say that the article would be out on Friday or early next week, McLain said.

“This is a good thing,” McLain said. “I have been waiting for this because it’s really something, I think, to get the story in People magazine. I have checked out the magazine, and if you’re not a movie star or have been on a TV show like ‘Nancy Grace,’ you’re not in People magazine.”

Cummings, 37, said in late August that he was a 9-year-old boy living in neighboring Millinocket when Joyce McLain, a 16-year-old Schenck High School sophomore, was found bludgeoned to death near the school’s soccer field in East Millinocket on Aug. 10, 1980. She was last seen jogging near the school the night of Aug. 8.

That case — and a fascination during childhood with the TV show “Quincy” — motivated Cummings to get into forensics and to volunteer to assist Dr. Michael Baden, a nonfiction Quincy, with the exhumation and another autopsy of McLain’s body on Aug. 29-30, 2008.

Another world-famous forensic expert, Dr. Henry Lee, assisted in the examination. McLain and the Justice for Joyce Committee paid Baden and Lee $20,000 for their efforts after state officials declined to pursue the exhumation, saying it would probably not produce any evidence.

Yet the autopsy confounded the experts by producing a large volume of evidence that state police said would take months to analyze. In the People article, Baden said that investigators got as much from the body as could have been obtained 28 years ago.

Over its 28 years, the case has produced more than a dozen suspects but no arrests, according to authorities.

Cummings, who participated in the autopsy procedure as a volunteer, said only that he is happy for Pamela McLain that the case is drawing such attention.

McLain and Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, said investigators hope that the publicity will help churn up enough information to close the case.

“The case is open and active, and in any case when you get widespread publicity, it can’t hurt,” McCausland said Wednesday. “Detectives have made some significant progress in this case since the exhumation, but certainly some coverage beyond the state could make a difference.”

Since the autopsy, state police have traveled beyond state lines several times in search of new and old witnesses. They have also blanketed East Millinocket as part of a comprehensive review of all case leads and evidence.

Anyone with information about the homicide is asked to call state police at 866-2121. All calls will be confidential.

The People spread isn’t the first time the case has received nationwide publicity. “Unsolved Mysteries,” a syndicated television show, did a segment on the case in the late 1980s. For McLain, who has pledged not to rest until her daughter’s killer is caught, the next step is uncertain.

“I know they [state police] are working on the case and that People magazine would be part of this thing,” she said. “We are sitting on it for a little bit to see what the outcome will be.”

nsambides@bangordailynews.net

794-8215

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