PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – In 1987, a 6-year-old boy was found dead on California’s Sherman Island four days after being abducted near his Vallejo home.

Nearly four decades later, police arrested Fred Cain III, of Central Point, Oregon, on Sept. 18, after DNA technology connected him to the crime and exonerated a previous suspect, according to the Solano County District Attorney’s Office.

According to an autopsy performed shortly after the crime, the boy had been sexually assaulted.

  • Fred Cain was arrested at his home in Central Point, Oregon and charged with the 1987 murder of a child in California, September 26, 2023 (Solano County Sheriff)

Cain faces charges of murder with special circumstance allegations of kidnapping and sodomy. He will be transferred to Solano County after waiving extradition in Oregon.

The previous suspect, Shawn Melton, had been accused because “he appeared to have knowledge only the person responsible for the child’s death would know,” officials say.

Melton was charged with murder and kidnapping, but the case was dismissed when a jury could not reach a verdict.

“The advances in DNA technology have since exonerated Mr. Melton and has implicated another person responsible for the young child’s death,” the D.A.’s office said.

In 2014, District Attorney Krishna Abrams reinstated a cold case unit to “hold offenders accountable, seek long-awaited justice, and bring closure for all the victims’ families that had been greatly impacted.”

“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 Abrams.

The D.A.’s office said to “preserve the integrity of the pending case,” it is sharing no further details at this time.

According to the Los Angeles Times, citing public records, Melton died in 2000, more than 20 years before DNA evidence could clear him of the crime.