SALEM, Ore.—The bodies of a missing Oregon mother and son have been found.
Authorities say the bodies were found Saturday, June 15, in a heavily wooded and very remote area in Yamhill County.
The bodies were identified Sunday as Karissa and Billy Fretwell. An autopsy found the mother’s cause of death was a single gunshot to the head, while additional testing will determine how her 3-year-old son died.
— FOX 12 Oregon KPTV (@fox12oregon) June 16, 2019
The Salem woman and her son disappeared May 13. The boy’s biological father was later arrested and charged with kidnapping and aggravated murder.
Court papers show Fretwell went to court to establish that Michael Wolfe is Billy’s father. A DNA test verified her claim, and Fretwell then filed a petition seeking child support.
— The Oregonian (@Oregonian) June 1, 2019
Wolfe has been jailed without bail since May 25.
Family members had told investigators that Fretwell recently went to court over a dispute with Wolfe, reported The Oregonian. KATU2 reported that a Yamhill County judge ruled that Wolfe should pay nearly $1,000 per month in child support to Fretwell.
Megan Harper, one of Fretwell’s friends, spoke about the custody battle.
“My first thought when she first went missing was that he’d done something,” she told KATU2, adding that at one point, Wolfe wanted to gain custody of the boy.
“That was her fear, him taking her child away,” said Harper.
Wolfe then began sending unusual messages to her.
“There were all of these warning signs. Like, he would send her creepy things in the mail,” Harper told the station.
The sheriff’s office added that an investigation into the case is ongoing, and those with relevant information should call the Salem Police Department or leave information on the tip line at 503-588-6050.
Other details about the case are not clear.
There were424,066 missing children reported in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center in 2018, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Under federal law, when a child is reported missing to law enforcement, they must be entered into the database. in 2017 there were 464,324 entries.
In 2018, the center said it assisted officers and families with the cases of more than 25,000 missing children. In those cases, 92 percent were endangered runaways, and 4 percent were abductions.
About one in seven children reported missing to the center in 2018 were likely victims of child sex trafficking.
The number of reported missing children has significantly decreased in recent years, according to a 2017 report by the Department of Justice. The number of children reported missing dropped from 6.5 per 1,000 children in 1999 to 3.1 per 1,000 in 2013.
Missing children typically fall into five categories: kidnapped by a family member, abducted by a non-family perpetrator, runaways, those who got lost, stranded, or injured, or those who went missing due to benign reasons, such as misunderstandings, according to the report researchers.
Epoch Times reporter Jack Philips and The Associated Press contributed to this report