September 24, 2018
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Minister, parents, co-worker testify about confession to McLain’s slaying

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Philip Scott Fournier is accused of killing Joyce McLain in 1980.
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Updated:

Four people on Friday testified how the man accused of killing 16-year-old Joyce McLain 37 years ago confessed the alleged crime to them.

Philip Scott Fournier, who is on trial for McLain’s murder, told his minister, mother, stepfather and a co-worker that he killed the girl in a wooded area behind the athletic fields at Schenck High School in East Millinocket on Aug. 8, 1980, according to testimony.

The Rev. Vinal Thomas of Cocoa Creek, Florida; Wayne and Anita Powers, both of East Millinocket; and John DeRoche of Bangor said that Fournier, 57, of East Millinocket offered no motive.

Thomas and DeRoche said that Fournier told them he hit McLain in the head with an insulator from a power pole.

Retired Maine State Police Sgt. Roderick Carr testified Monday that a broken insulator was found near McClain’s body. It has been entered into evidence but it has not yet been linked to McLain’s body or Fournier through forensic evidence.

Thomas, who presided over McLain’s funeral service, knew Fournier and McLain because both had attended the youth group at his church, Calvary Temple Assemblies of God in East Millinocket. He testified Friday that Fournier called him in May 1981 and said he wanted to come over to the church office and talk.

“He seemed upset because he was wringing his hands and looked like he’d been crying,” Thomas said.

He described Fournier’s demeanor as “nervous.”

“He told me, ‘I murdered Joyce McLain,’ the minister testified. “I asked him how and I think he said he hit her on the head. I asked if he had sex with her and he said, ‘No. It was the wrong time of the month.’”

Investigators testified earlier this week that McLain died of a head injury and was having her period when she was killed.

“I said, ‘I think you’re a liar,’” Thomas testified. “He asked me, ‘What can I do to prove to you that I’m not a liar?’ I told him to call his mother and stepfather, have them come over and ‘tell them what you told me without variations and I’ll believe you.’”

Once the couple arrived, Fournier repeated his confession, the minister said.

Anita and Wayne Powers testified that when they arrived at the church office, Fournier told them, “I killed Joyce but I didn’t mean to.” Both said that he was crying when he confessed.

The Powerses and Thomas decided to take Fournier to Bangor to talk to police because they were concerned about his safety in East Millinocket if people knew he had confessed, according to testimony.

Thomas said that he drove to the Bangor police station, then located on Court Street, and waited outside in his car. Between 45 minutes and an hour later, Fournier came out of the police station and got back in the car.

“He said, ‘They don’t believe me. I must have said something wrong,’” the minister testified.

The minister said he dropped Fournier off near his home in East Millinocket and did not speak to him again.

Wayne and Anita Powers both said they were surprised when Fournier returned home because they expected him to be arrested after he confessed.

“He came in the house and said, ‘I didn’t do it, Mama,’” Fournier’s mother testified. “I was surprised to see him and very happy.”

The fourth alleged confession came in June 1989 when Fournier worked at what was then Husson College for a year as a janitor. DeRoche, who was a janitorial supervisor then, asked Fournier about McLain’s murder when he learned he lived in East Millinocket.

“I asked him if he knew about Joyce’s murder and he said, “I killed her. I know all about it,’” DeRoche testified. “I said, ‘How did you kill her?’ and he said, ‘I hit her with a glass insulator on the back of the head.’”

A few days later, DeRoche said, he asked Fournier why he had not been arrested.

“He said that he’d been interviewed 20 times or more and he’d ‘beat all the interviews,’” the janitor testified.

DeRoche said that he told Husson security in 1989 that a suspect in McLain’s murder was working at the college. After Fournier was arrested in March 2016, DeRoche told his story to detectives with the Maine State Police.

Retired state police Detective Ronald Graves interviewed Fournier at the Bangor Police Station in May 1981 and testified Thursday that he did not arrest him for McLain’s murder that day because what Fournier said did not match the evidence.

The defense maintains that Fournier’s inconsistent statements to police over the years, which include denials that he killed McLain, were

due to a traumatic brain injury he suffered in a vehicle accident in neighboring Medway at about 3 a.m. on Aug. 9, 1980, the day after McLain’s death and the day before her body was discovered.

Fournier’s mother testified Friday that her son was never the same after the accident. She said that he “seemed to have a lot on his mind.”

The trial, which is expected to take another eight to 10 days, will resume Monday with testimony from forensic experts at the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory and the medical examiner.

The defense is expected to begin presenting its case Tuesday by calling many of the retired detectives who questioned but did not charge Fournier over the years.

If convicted, Fournier faces between 25 years and life in prison.

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