BANGOR, Maine, March 5 (UPI) -- A 55-year-old Maine man was arrested in connection to the decades-old beating death of a 16-year-old high school student.
Philip Scott Fournier was arrested about 11 a.m. Friday morning in the 1980 death of Joyce McLain after allegedly confessing to the crime multiple times, Maine police said.
McLain was last seen training for soccer season on Aug. 8, 1980. Her body was found in a field near a power line two days later. She was found partially clothed and showed signs of having been hit with a blunt object on her head and neck.
Her case remained cold for 35 years, until Friday when police arrested Fournier without incident.
State Police Chief Col. Robert Williams said they were confident that Fournier, who was involved in a car accident hours after her death, was involved in the murder.
"We're going to continue to work on the case," he said. "Right now, we think we have the person who committed the homicide, but we'll see what comes with new developments as people call in."
McLain's body was exhumed in 2008 as detectives continued to review the evidence in the case which had remained cold for more than three decades.
Fournier had been attached to the case since the investigation began, because the car accident placed him near the scene and some witnesses said they saw Fournier and another man running with a whiskey bottle in the same area.
During the lengthy investigation, Fournier placed himself at the murder scene with various degrees of involvement in confessions to police and local priests, investigators said.
"Over the years, Fournier has made statements to a number of people indicating potential knowledge and involvement in the death of Joyce McLain," Williams said.
Fournier confessed to the murder outright at times, while denying it or claiming he was forced to participate on other occasions. Williams said Fournier's constantly changing account of the murder contributed to the length of the investigation.
"You get one shot at a murder case, and you have to make it the best possible, and the [attorney general's] office determined this week that this was the time," Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said.
Fournier is being held on a murder charge and is due to appear in Penobscot Superior Court at 11:30 a.m. on Monday.