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‘This is for Jeremy’: Mother of 6-year-old boy murdered in1987 sees killer in court for first time

By Michelle Bandur

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    FAIRFIELD, California (KCRA) — Solano County sheriff’s deputies wheel Fred Cain III into the courtroom.

Now 69 years old, gray-haired and handcuffed in a wheelchair, Cain faces murder, kidnapping and other felonies in the 1987 death of 6-year-old Jeremy Stoner.

The judge is holding Cain on no bail and continued the arraignment until Oct. 12.

Stoner’s mother and brother were also in the courtroom. Karen Tabler sat down with KCRA 3 before the court hearing.

“This is for Jeremy,” Tabler said. “We’re doing this for Jeremy.”

Tabler said she still envisions how her son needed his parents when he was kidnapped.

“Just like him yelling for me and his dad to help him,” Tabler said. “That’s a lot of what I envision, a lot of trauma to him.”

She also remembers how her youngest boy of three lived and shared pictures taken so long ago.

“In a lot of kids, I see Jeremy. Even in my grandkids, I see Jeremy,” said Tabler.

Tabler’s even a great-grandmother now. Her hair also turned gray. She said every day of the last 36 years, Jeremy never left her mind, her memories or her heart.

“When he used to sing songs, play guitar for us, jump off the table like a Van Halen band member,” she recalled. “He was just a character. He was fun-loving .”

On Feb. 21, 1987, she left early for work. Jeremy was sleeping in her bed with his dad.

“Gave Jon a kiss, gave Jeremy a kiss goodbye, that was the last time I saw him,” she said.

Investigators said Cain kidnapped the first-grader from his Vallejo neighborhood, sexually assaulted and killed him.

His body was found four days later on Sherman Island.

Detectives actually questioned Cain on what would have been Jeremy’s 7th birthday, March 3, but they turned their attention to Shawn Melton.

Two murder trials ended in hung juries, and the charges against Melton eventually dropped. The case went unsolved until investigators tested DNA from the autopsy. Such technology was not invented in 1987.

They say it cleared Melton and linked Cain to the crimes.

Prosecutors hope it brings closure to the family once and for all.

I’ve been around a long time and haven’t ever really seen families get true closure,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Paul Sequeria. “I feel like it will be some comfort that someone will be held responsible for this crime.”

Tabler hopes investigators got it right this time so the family can rest.

“It could always be wrong, so I’m kind of scared because I don’t want to go through this another time,” she said. “I don’t think I would live through another time.”

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