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‘Go home. I love you.’ A father recalls last words with his 20-year-old son hours before his death in Mattapan

The father of Jahieem L. Gist Vailes knows his son was killed in Mattapan last week, but he is equally certain his child has not left him.

“Oh no, he’s not gone,” Wayne L. Vailes Jr. said of his 20-year-old son in a telephone interview Friday. “I don’t look at it as my son is gone. He’s just relaxing. He’s tired, that’s all...I’ll be tired one day. Then, we’ll both be tired with each other.”

Gist Vailes was shot just after 10 p.m. on July 21 when he was outside the home he shared with a relative on Orlando Street in Mattapan, according to Boston police. He was formally identified as the city’s 16th homicide victim by police on Thursday.

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Gist Vailes’ name was made public on the same day police, political and community leaders, and residents of the Ellington Street neighborhood were faced with the shooting death of 15-year-old Curtis Ashford Jr., the city’s youngest homicide victim this year. Ashford is the city’s 17th victim.

Investigations into the homicides of Gist Vailes and Ashford are continuing, but police and Suffolk District Attorney Kevin R. Hayden’s office have not reported making any arrests.

Vailes said he’d seen his son just hours before his death.

“I don’t know what happened. I was with my son two hours before he got killed,” Vailes said. “I just told my son, ‘Go home. I love you.’ And that was the last time I talked to my son.”

That last conversation was one of countless chats, messages, recommendations, and mentoring he’d shared with son since he was born in 2001. They also shared the same middle name, Lee, prompting family and friends to call the son “Little Lee,” Vailes said.

“I loved my son. My son knew I loved him. My son knew I’d go to bat for him,” Vailes said. “He’s got problems. I got problems. That’s the type of person I am.”

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He was also the type of father that, when the finances allowed, would still take his adult son clothes shopping and pay for it.

“My son had an easy life, at 20 years old, I still take my son shopping,” said Vailes, who’s now working just one job, in a sneaker store, instead of three. “That’s my baby! That’s my only baby! When I dress nice, he dresses nice.”

Vailes, who is 42 years old and lives in Dorchester, said his son liked nice clothes but his primary interest was cars.

“He just liked to make them look good,’’ said Vailes. “Drop them. Put some rims on them. Nice paint job. He liked stylish cars.”

Gist Vailes attended the automotive program at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School for two years but then relocated to Brockton to live with his mother. He graduated from Brockton High School, Vailes said.

Earlier this year, Gist Vailes started working for a security firm, his father said. He also had recorded some rap songs, one that Vailes had only heard recently.

Music was the inspiration for his son’s first name. Around the time he was born, a singer named Jaheim released a song, “Put That Woman First.” Vailes said he took the song as an inspiration to put his newborn son first and rearranged the letters to create a spelling unique to his son.

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“My son has done a lot,” Vailes said. “Skinny and handsome. Long dreads. Brown skin...I got no complaints.”

Jeremiah Manion of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.



John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.