MEDWAY, Maine — Wendy McLain loved her older sister dearly, but she just couldn’t come to Joyce McLain’s committal service Saturday, her mother said.

Even after 28 years, Wendy McLain’s grief over the homicide that took away her sister remains so profound that the 43-year-old Farmington resident, a registered nurse, could not bear to make the trip.

“She was really affected by this. She’s had a hard life,” Pamela McLain said Saturday. “The killer of killers did not just take Joyce. She took half of Wendy and what might have been. What might have been, won’t.”

Pamela’s former husband, Michael McLain of Millinocket, attended Saturday’s ceremony at Grindstone Road Cemetery and the exhumation of his stepdaughter’s body Thursday. Always shy, he cherished Joyce, but prefers that Pamela McLain keep her role of about 22 years as the McLains’ most public advocate.

“Pam has done everything and said everything,” Michael McLain said. “Pam has been doing a really good job with everything. I am very proud of what she’s doing and I give her whatever help she says she needs.”

Michael, Pamela and Wendy are like many of the McLains, Hales and other relatives, Pamela McLain said. They still carry the psychic wounds inflicted when the 16-year-old East Millinocket girl’s bludgeoned body was found in a clearing near the Schenck High School soccer fields Aug. 10, 1980.

“I saw Pam’s family torn completely apart by this,” said Judy Page, a 70-year-old East Millinocket resident and close friend of the McLains. “Her brothers and uncles used to have family get-togethers all the time. All that stopped after this. It’s affected everyone in a different way, but it’s affected them.”

Pamela believes that Wendy’s health has been adversely affected by her psychological pain.

For many of the Hales who are too young to know or remember Joyce, their grief is based less on memories than questions, said Emmy Williams, 30, of Medway.

They wonder what their Aunt Joyce would have been like had she lived.