Maine State Police made an arrest Friday in the 1980 killing of an East Millinocket girl, Joyce McLain, whose unsolved homicide helped motivate state legislators to create a cold case squad.

Philip Scott Fournier, 55, of East Millinocket was charged with murder and was being held at the Penobscot County Jail in Bangor.

McLain’s mother expressed relief that her nearly 36-year wait for an arrest in the case was over.

“I don’t hate. I’m for justice,” Pamela McLain told WCSH-TV. “And if somebody kills, rapes, beats a baby, I think justice should be brought here on earth if they’re living.

“And if not, then God will take care of the rest.”

Fournier had been named by a federal judge as a person of interest in the case, but he had never been identified as a suspect by police until his arrest, according to published reports.

A state police affidavit released Friday afternoon says police interviewed Fournier at least 22 times during the years of their investigation, first in 1980 and most recently last July 22. Detective Thomas Pickering conducted or reviewed all of them and described in the affidavit conflicting stories Fournier gave to investigators. Fournier initially confessed to the killing, then changed his story multiple times, sometimes implicating others, or claiming that McLain was already dead when he stumbled across her body.

“I learned the following information: that he has made statements indicating he was solely involved in the homicide of Joyce McLain; that he made statements that he was forced to participate in the abduction and homicide of Joyce McLain; that he has made statements that he witnessed others in the abduction of McLain; that Fournier stated that he witnessed Edward Deloge abduct and kill McLain; that Fournier changed his statement to someone who looked like Edward Deloge in a separate interview; that Fournier, over the course of several subsequent interviews, has implicated Adam Austin, Grant Boynton, Gary Friel and Roger Pictou as being involved in the abduction and homicide of McLain.”

State police Col. Robert Williams spoke about Fournier’s arrest at a news conference lasting less than 10 minutes at the Bangor Police Department late Friday afternoon and he declined to reveal what new piece of evidence might have emerged that led police to charge Fournier now.

“In 2008, Joyce’s body was exhumed and taken to the medical examiner’s office for re-examination,” Williams said. “Since that time, the State Police Crime Laboratory and detectives from the Major Crimes Unit have worked closely with the Attorney General’s Office and have comprehensively reviewed all the old and new evidence. And as a result of that, have arrested Scott Fournier.”

Williams wouldn’t say whether evidence gathered in the eight years since McLain’s body was exhumed, including two searches in October and November last year where McLain’s body was found, played a role, or whether detectives recovered a murder weapon.

Although one version of events Fournier described in the affidavit says McLain was attacked by more than one person, Williams wouldn’t say whether more people could be arrested.

He also declined to describe Fournier’s reaction when he was taken into custody, other than to call the arrest “uneventful.”

“(Fournier) has been interviewed many times,” he said. “Part of the reasons the case progressed slowly is that we had to work through what he told us at various times.”

Williams said he hoped Fournier’s arrest would provide a measure of relief to the East Millinocket community, particularly to Pamela McLain.

“She’s been living a nightmare for the last 35 and a half years,” he said.

DETAILS OF SUSPECT’S MOVEMENTS

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea filed a motion at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor seeking to have other documents in the case against Fournier sealed. He is scheduled to make his initial appearance in court on the murder charge Monday. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Fournier has an attorney.

State police returned to East Millinocket twice last year, searching for additional evidence connected to McLain’s murder and concentrating along power lines near Schenck High School, where her body was found 35 years earlier. Police wouldn’t elaborate on why they returned to the site.

McLain was 16 when she disappeared while jogging about 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 8, 1980. Her partially clad body was found two days later behind the high school’s soccer fields. Her neck and head had been struck repeatedly with a blunt object. Police said there was no sign of sexual assault.

At the time of her death, McLain was a sophomore at Schenck High School, where she was an honor student, a cheerleader, a musician and an athlete.

A thunderstorm that struck while authorities were searching for her washed away much of the evidence.

Pickering’s affidavit describes interviews police conducted starting in 1980, in which witnesses told police they saw Fournier near Schenck High School on the day of McLain’s killing.

One witness, Nolan Tanous, told police that he saw Fournier and another man, Leroy Spearin, drinking from a bottle of hard liquor around 7:30 p.m. that night and that they appeared drunk. But when Tanous returned from getting food in town and passed the school again, Spearin was alone and told him that Fournier had taken off.

Another witness, Lorrie (Nadeau) Willey, gave police a written statement in which she described seeing Fournier around 9 p.m. on the night of the killing, running with a whiskey bottle and learned later that he had stolen an oil truck and crashed it.

East Millinocket police logs show that officers found Fournier pinned inside a crashed oil truck around 3 a.m. on Aug. 9 in Medway and that Fournier was taken to a hospital with a concussion, fractured skull and other injuries.

Fournier’s mother, Anita Powers, told police in 2014 that many years earlier she had received a call from Pastor Vinal Thomas of Calvary Temple saying that her son had something to tell her. When she got to the temple, she told police, her son confessed that he killed McLain.

Fournier has a lengthy criminal record dating to 1979 that includes his most recent arrest, a 2009 federal case of possession of child pornography. He was sentenced in that case in U.S. District Court in Bangor on Dec. 7, 2009, to serve 78 months in prison, according to federal court records.

Fournier was released from prison on Jan. 6, 2015, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He was serving a 10-year term of supervised release at the time of his arrest on the murder charge for McLain’s killing.

‘BEST NEWS I’VE HEARD IN 35 YEARS’

State Rep. Stephen Stanley said he just about fell out of his chair early Friday afternoon when he learned of Fournier’s arrest in a phone call from Commissioner John Morris of the Department of Public Safety.

Stanley, who lives in Medway, grew up in neighboring East Millinocket with McLain’s mother, Pamela, and had her in mind in 2014 when he submitted a bill proposing the state’s first specialized squad to re-investigate cold cases.

“I think this is the best news I’ve heard in 35 years,” Stanley said of Fournier’s arrest. “I know he’s been a person of interest for a long time.”

Stanley said he doesn’t know whether his legislation to create the cold case squad contributed to Fournier’s arrest and credited the state police detectives who kept searching for clues in the case over the years. McLain’s unsolved killing was one of more than 120 cold cases in Maine.

The Legislature passed a bill in 2014 creating a cold case squad, but without funding for it. The Legislature passed another bill in 2015 that provided $500,000 to support two state police detectives and a forensic chemist who works with the prosecutor in the Attorney General’s Office who focuses on unsolved homicides.

Stanley said he has not had a chance to speak with Pamela McLain yet, but expects that Fournier’s arrest came as a shock to her. He said she knew that Fournier was one of several people of interest, but she didn’t know who killed her daughter so many years ago.

“I think this will take a lot of pressure off her. She’s been living with this for 35 years,” Stanley said. “Pam deserves a lot of credit for everything that was done on this.”

Pamela McLain didn’t return a phone message seeking a comment Friday.

Fournier’s adult criminal record starts in 1979, when he was convicted of an East Millinocket police charge of burglary, according to the Maine State Bureau of Identification database.

Fournier was sentenced in the 1979 case to serve a year in prison. He was arrested again on Aug. 9, 1980 on another felony burglary charge in East Millinocket as a result of his theft of the oil truck that he crashed. He was sentenced in 1981 for that arrest to serve two more years in state prison.

After his second release, he was arrested again on Oct. 16, 1984, on a Bangor police charge of felony burglary. He was sentenced in that case to serve another three years in state prison. After Fournier’s 1984 arrest, there are no other entries on his record in the state database.

A conviction on a charge of murder in Maine is punishable by 25 years to life in prison.