When Parker Dean Cain walked into the J.B.’s restaurant in east Mesa a little more than a year ago looking for a job, manager Billie Wyman said he came into the right place at the right time.
But about 8 p.m. on July 12, when the 18-year-old walked out of the apartment of a friend near 64th Street and University Drive, Wyman said it was a case of a good kid being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Cain, 18, who worked about 30 hours a week as a dishwasher at the J.B.’s on Main Street near Power Road and rode his skateboard about a mile to get to work, was shot once in the neck in the parking lot of the complex and died from his injuries, according to information from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. Cain’s slaying remains unsolved.
Cain’s mother picked up her son’s last paycheck from J.B.’s on Friday, and now staff at the restaurant have kicked off a raffle of sports memorabilia from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Mercury and hopefully the Phoenix Suns as part of a fundraiser to help pay for a tombstone for Cain, who is buried in his hometown of Chicago.
“He was the skateboard king,” Wyman said of Parker. “He was a good kid, who was a hard worker and dependable,” Wyman said. “He was not into drugs or anything like that. He was very big into music and was taking music courses at Mesa Community College. He made minimum wage and worked too hard for his money. He took his whole paycheck and bought his mother tickets for the Tom Petty concert in September.
“Parker was about 6 feet 5 inches tall and had blond curly hair — his grandfather nicknamed him the gentle giant. He and his cousin loved to play guitar.”
Cain was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting. Witnesses said there were three black males wearing white T-shirts and dark baggy pants between the ages of 20 to 30 fleeing the area.
Investigators are trying to locate the men, who the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office believes to be involved in a string of home invasions in the area.
Cain’s memorial service was held on July 17 in Mesa and he was buried in Chicago on July 24, Wyman said. His family had been living in Arizona for the last three years after his mother decided to move from Chicago soon after her other son died from pneumonia at a young age.
Cain’s mother could not be reached for comment, but Wyman said she plans to stay in Arizona until September, then move back to Chicago with her daughter — after attending the Tom Petty concert at US Airways Arena in Phoenix on Sept. 26.
Anyone wishing to make contributions or purchase raffle tickets for any of the sports memorabilia can do so in the restaurant.
MCSO investigators are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the individuals responsible for the crime. Silent Witness is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest or conviction. Anyone with any information about the case can call Silent Witness at (480) 948-6377.