BANGOR — For 35 years, 6 months and 25 days, through grief and through sadness, Pamela McLain has waited for what comes next.

After her daughter Joyce said goodbye half a lifetime ago, the middle chapter in the story of the teenager’s killing in August 1980 will finally be drafted in a Bangor courtroom, where 55-year-old Philip Scott Fournier made his first appearance Monday to answer a charge of murder.

It was a development that McLain had long envisioned but hardly expected.

“I was speechless, and I’m a talker, I talk all the time,” McLain said in an interview at her home in East Millinocket. “I was really speechless. (Police) said, as soon as we leave here you’re going be to bombarded with press. They did get as far as the door and then I heard the house phone, ring, ring, ring.”

Joyce McLain

Joyce McLain

Fournier’s brief appearance before a judge in the Penobscot Judicial Center was a preamble to what likely will be a lengthy legal process, which will require McLain and the Millinocket community to relive the killing that has roiled the former mill town’s residents for decades.

Dressed in a yellow shirt and dark suit jacket, Fournier, who goes by his middle name, spoke only once to acknowledge that he understood the charge against him, which was announced Friday in an affidavit of probable cause.

“There is a big middle here,” McLain said. “It’s already started. There is going to be a big middle, and its going to be long and hard. And then there’s going to be an end. And I hope Scott makes some good choices for once.”

Fournier is being held without bail until his attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein, can challenge the affidavit. Speaking to reporters after the court appearance, Silverstein questioned the evidence against his client as well as the reliability of his statements, pointing to the head injuries he sustained when he crashed a stolen fuel truck hours after Joyce McLain was likely killed.

“It may explain why the state seemed to be confused in terms of how to process all the various statements he made, and why, in March of 2016, they chose to rely upon a statement made back in the 1980s … is beyond me at this point in time,” Silverstein said.

He also noted that the affidavit lacked references to physical evidence.

“If there were forensic evidence linking Mr. Fournier to this, one would imagine it would be included in the affidavit as an additional basis on which the court would make its probable cause findings,” Silverstein said.

The lengthy affidavit says police interviewed Fournier at least 22 times during the years of their investigation, first in 1980 and most recently last July 22. The affidavit described numerous conflicting stories that Fournier gave to investigators, initially confessing to the killing, then changing his story multiple times, sometimes implicating others, or claiming that McLain was already dead when he stumbled across her body.

“By appearances, there doesn’t seem to be any significant new information presented certainly in regards to Mr. Fournier’s statements,” Silverstein said.

Philip Scott Fournier listens to attorney Jeffrey Silverstein at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor during his initial appearance on a homicide charge in connection with the 1980 death of high school student Joyce McClain.

Philip Scott Fournier listens to attorney Jeffrey Silverstein at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor during his initial appearance on a homicide charge in connection with the 1980 death of high school student Joyce McClain. Kevin Bennett photo

WHAT NEW EVIDENCE LED TO ARREST?

In their news conference Friday, police wouldn’t answer the same question posed Monday by Silverstein: What evidence might they have developed that would lead them to charge Fournier now, 36 years after the victim’s death?

But McLain cast aside suggestions that Fournier’s statements, including his multiple confessions, are unreliable because of his past injuries.

“He was in the hospital for a month,” McLain said. “But when he got out and when he made his confession, that was what was. And then I think he had some afterthoughts, but he couldn’t get it out of his mind. Not that he lost his mind, it was in there, and he was trying to control himself.”

Four of Fournier’s family members, including his mother and stepfather, sat in the front row of the courtroom for more than an hour before their son appeared. Fournier’s mother declined to speak to reporters after the hearing, covering her head with her coat as she left the courthouse and entered a waiting vehicle.

Although she didn’t attend Monday’s proceeding, Pamela McLain said she plans to be involved in the process going forward, and that she has formed a strong relationship with Fournier’s mother and stepfather, Anita and Wayne Powers.

“I told her, ‘You support and love your son. I support you. I’ll love and support my daughter, and I know you’ll support me. We’re in this together,’ ” McLain said.

For years, McLain has fought for her daughter’s case to be solved, sometimes clashing with the detectives assigned to investigate the slaying.

“Sometimes in a case that you think is going to be easy to solve because it’s a small town, things get a way of getting missing,” McLain said. “Evidence, talks, communication. You change detectives. Someone else is on. It gets lost in the shuffle.”

Through it all, McLain has kept a light burning for her daughter in her front porch window, a quiet reminder to the community of what is at stake.

As soon as DNA technology emerged in the late 1980s, she advocated loudly for Maine State Police to exhume her daughter’s body. But her demands were cast aside, so McLain raised the money to exhume the body in 2008 and have her daughter’s remains independently tested.

McLain was told that pathologists collected several samples that they hoped contained DNA, but she was never told by investigators whether those samples matched any suspect or revealed new evidence in the case.

A portrait of Joyce McLain that is affixed to her gravestone peeks out from under snow in the cemetery Monday.

A portrait of Joyce McLain that is affixed to her gravestone peeks out from under snow in the cemetery Monday. Photo by Kevin Bennett

LIVE INVESTIGATION, OLD WITNESSES

Joyce McLain’s killing became a touchstone for legislators, who last year approved funding for a cold case investigation squad.

Although none of the personnel hired for the squad in the past year worked on McLain’s case, Fournier’s arrest was heralded by state police Col. Robert Williams at Friday’s news conference as a landmark in the investigation. Williams said the investigation is continuing, and asked for the public’s help with information about McLain’s death.

McLain 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 soccer fields, her neck and head struck repeatedly with a blunt object. A thunderstorm that struck while she was still missing washed away much of the evidence. Police said there was no sign of sexual assault.

At the time of her death, McLain was a 16-year-old sophomore at Schenck High School, where she was an honor student, a cheerleader, a musician and an athlete.

The affidavit filed in the case describes interviews that police conducted starting in 1980, in which witnesses told police they saw Fournier near Schenck High School on the day McLain disappeared.

One witness told police he saw Fournier and another man drinking from a bottle of hard liquor around 7:30 p.m. that night, and that they appeared drunk.

Another 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 learning later that Fournier had stolen and crashed an oil truck.

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.

Philip Scott Fournier’s mother, left, and sister leave the court house in Bangor after Fournier made his first appearance on a homicide charge.

Philip Scott Fournier’s mother, left, and sister leave the court house in Bangor after Fournier made his first appearance on a homicide charge. Kevin Bennett photo

MOTHER TOLD POLICE OF CONFESSION

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, who said her son had something to tell her. When she got to the temple, her son confessed that he killed McLain, police said.

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 U.S. District Court in Bangor on Dec. 7, 2009, to serve 78 months in prison, according to federal court records.

Fournier was released 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 in McLain’s killing.

A murder conviction in Maine is punishable by 25 years to life in prison.