Real Name: Joyce Marie McLain
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: East Millinocket, Maine
Date: August 8, 1980
Details: Sixteen-year-old Joyce McLain was a popular and well-liked high school student in the mill town of East Millinocket, Maine. She displayed extraordinary musical talent at an early age; later on, she played in the school orchestra and composed her own music. She was also an honors student, a cheerleader, and an officer of the student body. Her mind was often focused on the future as she was heading into a new step in life. She had recently gotten her driver's license and was planning on having a party at the beach for her seventeenth birthday. She also planned on going to college after graduating from high school.
At 7:30pm on Friday, August 8, 1980, Joyce went jogging behind her school; her route took her around town and behind Schenck High School. At around 7:45pm, a witness saw her turning the corner to go down to the softball and soccer fields where she usually did a number of laps. She was never seen again. When she did not come home that night, her mother Pam became concerned. A search soon began. Two days later, search volunteer Peter Larlee found her beaten to death in the woods behind the school's soccer fields. Her death came as a great shock to the community. Knowing that a killer was on the loose, many residents feared for the safety of their loved ones. Children were discouraged from playing outside after dark and residents started locking their doors.
It is not known exactly what events led up to Joyce's death. Several theories have came up in this case, including: that she was killed by locals who harassed her at the soccer field and then tried to rape her; and that she was killed by day laborers from the local paper mill. However, no one has ever been identified as a suspect. As the years pass on, the community of East Millinocket refuses to let Joyce's murder be forgotten. On the murder's eight-year anniversary, a candlelight memorial service was held by members of the community.
Suspects: Several theories have came up as to who might have murdered Joyce. On the night she vanished, a softball tournament was in town and several teenagers were partying around the area that she went jogging in. One theory is that she was harassed by locals who later took her to the field where she was found, attempted to rape her, and ended up beating and killing her. Another theory was that she was murdered by workers at a local paper mill. The mill had just taken on 300 workers who were not local residents. However, no suspects were named.
A detective who worked this case stated that he was certain he knew who killed Joyce, but he also stated that he believed that the person responsible for her death is no longer in the position to harm anyone else in the general public.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the February 15, 1989 episode. Joyce's friends and family, along with 6,000 others, signed a petition to help get her story onto Unsolved Mysteries. It was also featured on People Magazine Investigates.
Results: Solved. For years, Pam had tried to have Joyce's body exhumed in order to find new evidence. Finally, in 2008, it was done so for a second autopsy and new evidence was uncovered. In 2009, her gravesite was vandalized repeatedly by unknown assailants. It is not known if it has any relation to her murder.
After this case was reopened, new evidence was found and new witnesses came forward that implicated Phillip Scott Fournier in it. In 2009, he was officially named a "person of interest". In March 2016, he was arrested and charged with Joyce's murder. He had actually been considered a person of interest since the beginning.
On the night Joyce was killed, Fournier, who was nineteen at the time, stole an oil truck and crashed it just a few blocks from the area where her body would later be found. Several witnesses, including his mother, stepfather, and a priest, all stated that he confessed to killing her or being involved in her murder. He also had confessed to the crime to investigators during several different interrogations throughout the years. During these confessions, he claimed that other men were involved in the crime. However, all were ruled out as suspects. Several years after the murder, Fournier confessed to his supervisor. The supervisor asked him how he had gotten away with the crime. He told him that he purposely misled investigators by naming other men as being involved in this case.
Other witnesses stated that they had seen Fournier near the school around the time that Joyce vanished. They noticed that he had a bottle of hard liquor with him. In some of his confessions, he claimed that he had killed her by striking her in the head with it. Two witnesses also stated that on the night she vanished, they had seen him running away from the area where her body would later be found. A few days before her death, he told his stepbrother that he had a "crush" on her. He also told his stepfather that he wanted to "take up jogging" which was an activity that she often did.
In some of Fournier's confessions, he accurately described certain parts of the crime scene, including a telephone insulator found next to Joyce's body (which he also claimed he struck her with), that her hands were tied behind her back, that she was lying on her stomach, that her hair was tied back in a ribbon, and that she was on her period when she was killed. According to police, the details about the insulator and her period were never released to the public. Also, he took an officer to the exact spot where her body was found.
Fournier had several previous convictions on charges of possession of child pornography, burglary, and theft. He pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and asked for a trial by judge. His defense claimed that his confessions were unreliable due to the injuries he sustained from the truck crash. They pointed to other suspects in this case, including Peter Larlee, the man who found Joyce's body; Joe Albert, a criminal who killed another young woman in 1983; and the men whom Fournier previously named in his confessions. However, all had already been ruled out by police either through alibis or other means.
In January 2018, Fournier's trial began. On February 22, he was found guilty of first-degree murder. In April, he was sentenced to forty-five years in prison. In February 2019, his conviction was upheld.
- Joyce McLain on Unsolved.com
- August slaying of East Millinocket girl remains a mystery - March 6, 1981
- An unsolved murder - Joyce McLain's killer is still free - July 19, 1986
- Maine towns won't let girl's murder fade away - January 22, 1989
- Eight years after her murder, will there be justice for Joyce? - February 14, 1989
- Unsolved mystery: TV show may help solve 8 1/2-year-old case - February 14, 1989
- Exhumation funds raised in Maine murder - July 8, 2008
- Examination of the body of Joyce McLain, victim of 28-year-old homicide, yields surprising results - August 30, 2008
- McLain's body reinterred - September 1, 2008
- Police seek new clues in old murder - September 4, 2008
- A Cold Case Comes to Life - April 13, 2009
- Judge shocked convict's ex-wife - December 31, 2009
- No 'Cold Justice' for 33-year-old Joyce McLain homicide case - October 27, 2013
- McLain Affidavit - March 3, 2016
- Maine police 'confident' arrest solves 1980 killing - March 4, 2016
- Man charged in death of Joyce McLain pleads not guilty - June 21, 2016
- Judge says evidence against Joyce McLain murder suspect "not overwhelming" - July 18, 2016
- 37 years after Joyce McLain's death, murder trial set to begin - January 20, 2018
- Joyce McLain's mother speaks of girl's final hours as murder trial begins - January 22, 2018
- Maine man found guilty in 1980 slaying of Joyce McLain - February 22, 2018
- Justice Ann Murray's full judgment in the murder trial of Philip Scott Fournier - February 22, 2018
- Justice for Joyce: The trial her family, community has waited 37 years for - February 22, 2018
- Joyce McLain's killer sentenced to 45 years in prison - April 27, 2018
- Maine high court upholds conviction of Joyce McLain's killer - February 21, 2019
- Joyce McLain on Find a Grave