Body found in bonfire pile in Tonto National Forest identified, family speaks out

Posted at 7:18 AM, June 26, 2023

(Scripps News Phoenix) – A body found in a bonfire pile in the Tonto National Forest has been identified as an 18-year-old reported missing out of Tempe.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office identified the body as that of 18-year-old Parker League on June 21. League had been reported missing by the Tempe Police Department, according to MCSO.

photo of parker league on a boat

This photo provided by family shows Parker League. Authorities said the missing teen’s remains were found in a bonfire pile at Tonto National Forest on June 12. (Family provided via Scripps News Phoenix)

Tempe police say League was visiting from Arizona but was from out of state. His last known location is believed to be at a residential home in Tempe, where his belongings were left behind, police said.

MCSO says League’s death was “malicious,” but did not specify how the teen died.

His brother, Hunter League, spoke exclusively with Scripps News Phoenix following the identification of Parker’s remains.

“It’s hard to accept because he was the nicest kid in the world,” said Hunter.

“I got a call from my dad telling me to come home. I asked him ‘why’ about three times and the third time he tried to explain it, he just started breaking down,” said Hunter.

Hunter was just two years older than his brother, who he also called his best friend. He said Parker had just graduated high school in Nebraska and decided to take a trip to Tempe to visit friends.

“I knew he had a place to stay; I knew he got there. We texted… that’s about it,” said Hunter.

The family says Parker flew in on June 9 and last messaged his brother on the 10th. He was supposed to fly home on the 12th but, that same day, his body was found. Parker’s family says they were not made aware and filed a missing persons report with the Tempe Police Department on the 15th.

Officials said earlier that League’s body was found on June 12 around 7 a.m. at the Bulldog Canyon (Hackamore) OHV recreation area, northeast of the Phoenix metro area.

MCSO says they are now stepping up patrols in that area as no one has been arrested.

“I hate to hone in on this specific issue but, I mean, we’re dealing with homelessness. We’re dealing with just a remote area; we’re dealing with areas that can only be accessed by 4×4 vehicles,” said Sgt. Joaquin Enriquez.

Authorities search the scene where a body was found in a bonfire pile at Tonto National Forest

Authorities search the scene where a body was found in a bonfire pile at Tonto National Forest on June 12. (Scripps News Phoenix)

Campers say they’ve heard about recent crimes happening in Bulldog Canyon, including theft. Scripps News Phoenix brought that up to Hunter and he believes Parker may have been targeted because of an expensive watch he took with him on the trip. The family says they also checked Parker’s bank account and found two unusual transactions.

“We basically found out that someone was using his debit card to get food and tried to pay their electric bill with it,” said Hunter.

MCSO responded to that, saying homicide detectives are tracking and looking into all leads.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Phoenix, an E.W. Scripps Company.