EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Word that Philip Scott Fournier was convicted of murdering Joyce McLain on Thursday propelled Brett Doe to think back to that balmy night in August 1980.
Like the 58-year-old Doe, the town was livelier then. A softball tournament was in town, and hundreds of workers were helping to build the paper mill’s new boiler. People were partying everywhere, but especially at the Schenck High School athletic fields, he said.
He and his buddies were driving the same town streets that McLain and Fournier used before their deadly encounter near the fields.
“It was such a long time ago,” Doe said Thursday. “It’s hung over this town since then. I am glad to have it over with.”
Doe and several other Katahdin region residents reacted to Justice Ann Murray’s verdict with hope that the victim’s family — especially the victim’s mother, Pamela McLain — would finally find some relief after 37½ years.
They expressed pride in McLain’s fight for justice and said that some of the unsettling details revealed in the trial shocked them.
And no one believed that Fournier acted alone.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” Lena Fiske, a 47-year-old Medway resident, said of the verdict. “I have known Pam for all of my life. I saw what she went through. My concern was for her. I know how long she’s fought for Joyce. She was Joyce’s voice.”
“Pam finally seemed to be at peace today,” said Stacie Johnston, a 41-year-old clerk at Rick’s Market on Main Street. “It was a big day.”
“I’ve seen her grin, but I have never seen her grin like today,” Fiske said.
For Pam McLain’s brother Danny Hale, “today was the strangest day in my life.”
“I can’t say I was happy. I can’t say I was sad,” Hale said. “I had no emotion in it.”
Like McLain, Hale expressed forgiveness and sadness for the Fournier family. East Millinocket is a small town in population and size, and both families have known each other for decades.
“I loved his family,” Hale said. “His stepfather’s the greatest guy.”
Galen Hale Sr., Danny and Pam’s brother, said he forgave Fournier.
Viola DeWitt of Medway expressed astonishment that Fournier was found guilty.
“I’m shocked, because of the way the trial was going and the things that were coming out,” DeWitt said of the several suspects revealed by Fournier’s defense and the lack of physical evidence tying him to the crime.
“I wanted him to be guilty, but I did not think he would be found guilty,” DeWitt said.
Doe, whose father was an East Millinocket police chief, said he hoped that the verdict would bring peace to the people who have been falsely accused of killing or conspiring with Fournier to kill the 16-year-old high school sophomore.
“It’s too bad that it went that way,” Doe said, “but what can you say? She’s the mother of a murdered child.”
Police have looked at more than a dozen suspects. Danny Hale said he believed that investigators had tunnel vision for one suspect, which stalled the investigation’s first 10 years. One state police detective, he said, didn’t want to hear anything about Fournier.
A man who answered the door at the Fournier home on Thursday declined to comment. He said that Fournier’s mother was on the phone with her son.
Galen Hale Sr. said he hoped that state police would continue to search for accomplices. Jessica Redman, a 37-year-old from Medway, said she believed that she knew one man who killed McLain who hasn’t been arrested.
“Anybody,” Hale said, “who knows this case knows that it was more than Scott. There’s people who know, and they aren’t talking.
“Justice will come,” he said.
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