Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Cold case murder of six-year-old boy is finally cracked nearly 40 years later

Fred Cain III, 69, was arrested in Oregon after DNA evidence allegedly linked him to the abduction, sexual assault and murder of Jeremy Stoner in 1987

Amelia Neath
Tuesday 26 September 2023 16:08 BST
Fred Cain sexually assaulted and murdered Jeremy Stoner, a six-year-old boy in 1987
Fred Cain sexually assaulted and murdered Jeremy Stoner, a six-year-old boy in 1987 (Solano County District Attorney’s Office)

The cold case murder of a six-year-old boy has finally been solved after nearly 40 years thanks to advancements in DNA technology, California police say.

Fred Cain III, 69, was arrested at his home in Central Point, Oregon, on 18 September after DNA evidence allegedly linked him to the abduction, sexual assault and murder of Jeremy Stoner in February 1987.

He waived extradition in Oregon and will now be transferred to California to face murder charges, along with special circumstance allegations of kidnapping and sodomy.

Jeremy’s body was found on Sherman Island in Sacramento County, California, four days after he went missing from his grandparents home in Vallejo. It was believed he was strangled.

When the case was first investigated, police reportedly interviewed Mr Cain - but determined another man was responsible.

Shawn Melton was named a suspect after police said he appeared to have knowledge that only the killer would know.

He was charged with murder and kidnapping, but the case was later dismissed after two juries could not reach a verdict. Melton died in 2000.

Peter Foor, who represented Melton as a public defender in 1987, said that his client was “odd” and was trying to help police with theories on what could have happened, only to make himself look more suspicious.

"I guess what I’m saying is when Shawn walked through the door their investigation completely shut down,” said Mr Foor. “They actually talked to Cain once, during this investigation and they were going to follow up on it, but they didn’t cause they were convinced. They were the ones telling the press they were 100 per cent convinced that he was the killer."

Despite Mr Foor revealing that they interviewed Mr Cain all those years ago, the advancements in DNA research have since exonerated Melton.

“I am so thankful to have such dedicated cold case investigators that no matter how much time goes by they remain steadfast in their commitment to solving these horrific cases,” said District Attorney Krishna Abrams.

36 years later, Fred Cain has been arrested for the murder of Jeremy Stoner (Jackson County Sheriff’s Office)

When Ms Abrams was elected into office in 2014, she reinstated the Cold Case Unit in order to solve homicide cases that have not yet held criminals accountable.

"I hope he rots in Hell, he got what he deserves," Mr Cain’s niece Cris Delaney told ABC News. She reportedly also had an ‘extremely rough childhood’ because of  Mr Cain.

"My reaction was [that I] felt horrible for this child but thankful that he’s gonna get caught and hopefully put away for a long time.”

Records obtained by ABC also show Mr Cain has done previous time in jail for charges of sodomy, rape-by-threat and burglary.

The Solano County’s District Attorney was set to hold a press conference on the case on Tuesday.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in