Nine months after Joyce McLain’s partially clad body was discovered, the man accused of killing the 16-year-old on Aug. 8, 1980, walked with investigators behind the athletic fields to the crime scene, a retired detective testified Thursday.
“He led officers in the wooded area right to where the body had been,” Ronald Graves of Davenport, Florida, said Thursday, during the murder trial of Philip Scott Fournier. “Then, he walked down the pole line.”
Fournier, who was one of many suspects police asked to visit the scene with investigators, confessed that day to killing the East Millinocket teenager but later recanted, according to court documents.
Peter Larlee, a McLain family friend who is now deceased, found the body about 36 hours after the girl disappeared. Media reports had said her body was found behind the Schenck High School athletic fields but did not give an exact location.
Under cross-examination, the retired detective said that investigators did not arrest Fournier at the time of his alleged confession because his statements weren’t consistent with the evidence and investigators had other suspects to rule in or out.
Graves, who retired from the Maine State Police in 1993, testified on the fourth day of the jury-waived murder trial of Fournier, 57, of East Millinocket at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.
He told Superior Court Justice Ann Murray that he was one of the detectives assigned to investigate the homicide. Graves helped collect evidence on Aug. 10, 1980, the day the girl’s body was found. McLain was last seen jogging near the high school in East Millinocket about 8 p.m. Aug. 8, 1980.
Graves testified that he was at the Bangor police station on May 12, 1981, when Fournier told investigators what he knew about McLain’s slaying.
In that interview, Fournier said: “I remember telling the investigators that I raped Joyce and that I hit her with a telephone insulator and that I kicked her,” the affidavit said. “I told them I did that, which I didn’t, because I’m not that way. I said I did because I thought I did it.”
McLain was not sexually assaulted, the prosecution has said.
Fournier knew things about the crime that had not been released to the public or the media, including that McLain was having her period when she died and that a broken insulator was found near her body, Graves said Thursday.
The prosecution maintains that although Fournier’s statements to the police over the years have been inconsistent, he confessed to his pastor, parents and others, and knows details only the police were privy to. Prosecutors have not told the judge why it took so long to charge Fournier.
The defense claims Fournier’s memory is unreliable because he suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car crash about six hours after McLain was last seen.
The trial is expected to take at least another two weeks. Fournier’s parents and pastor are scheduled to testify Friday.
Since being arrested on the murder charge on March 4, 2016, Fournier has been held at Penobscot County Jail in Bangor, unable to post $300,000 cash bail.
If convicted of murder, Fournier faces between 25 years and life in prison.
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