BANGOR, Maine — The East Millinocket man accused of slaying high school student Joyce McLain nearly 36 years ago and dumping her body by Schenck High School pleaded not guilty Tuesday at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Philip Scott Fournier, 55, was arrested March 4 without incident at his home and charged with intentional or knowing murder and depraved indifference murder in the death of McLain, 16, on Aug. 8, 1980. He was indicted at the end of March by the Penobscot County grand jury on one count of murder.
In March, Superior Court Justice William Anderson ordered that Fournier be held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail.
Much of Tuesday was spent holding a bail hearing with Justice Ann Murray that included testimony by Fournier’s mother and stepfather and former pastor Vinal Thomas, who testified that in June 1989, Fournier confessed to killing McLain.
“All Scott said to you is: ‘I did it,’” Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese asked Fournier’s mother, Anita Powers.
“He said that first,” Powers responded. “I said, ‘What did you do?’”
“He told you, ‘I killed Joyce McLain,’” Marchese asked her.
“Yes,” Fournier’s mother said.
Murray continued the bail hearing at about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, when defense attorney Jeffrey Silverstein said he would not be done by 4 p.m. The hearing will continue on July 18.
A total of 13 McLain family members and friends and Fournier’s parents and sister were in the courtroom listening to the testimony. After Fournier’s mother and stepfather left the stand, Michael Penders, the supervisor of Fournier’s federal probation officer was questioned, then Leroy Spearin who, according to the affidavit, was hanging out with Fournier on the night McLain went missing.
Spearin invoked his Fifth Amendment right to decline to answer questions about events that might incriminate him, including if he knew Fournier.
Silverstein is asking that his client be released on bail and that his federal probation officer be given the job of keeping an eye on him.
McLain last was seen the night of Aug. 8, 1980, while jogging. Her partially clad and beaten body was found two days later in a clearing near the high school. Her head and neck had been hit with a blunt object.
Fournier was involved in a vehicle crash within hours of McLain’s death after he stole an oil truck and crashed it and suffered head injuries, according to a previously published report. His mother testified Tuesday that her son was changed after he recovered, and she added that he was deemed disabled and received Social Security benefits but had worked at Husson University for a time.
In 2009, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock identified Fournier as “a person of interest” in McLain’s homicide when he sentenced him in 2009 to 6½ years in federal prison for possession of child pornography. Fournier’s criminal history also includes convictions in state court for burglary and unauthorized taking in 1979, burglary and theft in 1980, and burglary in 1984. After his conviction for possessing child pornography, he was ordered to have his name listed for 10 years in the official state sex offender registry.
Fournier was released from federal prison on Jan. 6, 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Inmate locator.
According to the affidavit filed in connection with McLain’s death, investigators spoke with Fournier at least 27 times in the last 35 years, and in some of those interviews, he confessed to the slaying.
In addition to his parents, police also interviewed other people who said they heard Fournier confess to killing McLain, including a local minister and a couple in 2010 who said he told them he was among several young men who attacked and sexually assaulted the girl before killing her.
During interviews with police, Fournier named at least five different men, saying they were involved in McLain’s death. At times he said he was a witness, other times “he was forced to participate.” The Bangor Daily News is not naming the men because they have not been charged with a crime.
Silverstein said after court that other people have also confessed to the crime.
If convicted of murder, Fournier faces between 25 years and life in prison.
“Unbelievable” is the single word one McLain family member used to describe the events as court ended for the day.