Police: Bodies of Mom, Son Found Where Boy’s Father Cut Wood

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
June 18, 2019USshare
Police: Bodies of Mom, Son Found Where Boy’s Father Cut Wood
Karissa Alyn Fretwell and her 3-year-old son William "Billy" Fretwell. (Salem Police Department via AP)

SALEM, Ore.—The bodies of an Oregon mother and her 3-year-old son have been found more than a month after they vanished, hidden in a forest where the boy’s father cut wood, authorities said on June 17.

“Really good detective work” led authorities to find the bodies of Karissa and Billy Fretwell on Saturday in a heavily wooded area northwest of the state capital of Salem, Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry said.

Michael John Wolfe, the child’s father, was arrested last month at a doughnut shop in Portland and has been charged with kidnapping and aggravated murder in their deaths.

Michael John Wolfe
Michael John Wolfe. (Salem Police Department)

An autopsy found 25-year-old Karissa Fretwell died of a single gunshot to the head, while additional testing this week will determine how Billy died, prosecutors said.

Fretwell hadn’t been heard from since May 13. Her family reported her and her son missing a few days later when she didn’t show up for work.

Court papers show Fretwell went to court last year to establish that Wolfe is Billy’s father and had filed a petition seeking over $1,000 a month in child support.

Karissa Alyn Fretwell, and her 3-year-old son, William (Billy) Fretwell. (Salem Police Department)

Wolfe, 52, had a permit to cut wood close to where the bodies were found, Berry said.

“I can’t tell you how the information came about,” the district attorney said of pinpointing the location. “I can tell you Wolfe was familiar with this area.”

Searchers who were part of a crew of dozens from different agencies found the bodies after looking for about two hours Saturday. The bodies had been covered with debris, Berry said.

Searchers had combed the area previously to no avail.

A firearm also has been found, but prosecutors said detectives don’t know yet if it’s the gun used to kill Fretwell.

Wolfe is jailed without bail and scheduled to appear in court later this week. It wasn’t immediately known if he has a lawyer.

Karissa Alyn Fretwell and Billy
Karissa Alyn Fretwell and her 3-year-old son William “Billy” Fretwell. (Salem Police Department via AP)

Meanwhile, a stuffed animal and vases of fresh flowers have appeared on the hood of Fretwell’s car near her Salem apartment, KPTV reported.

Neighbors say it’s been a difficult month since the two disappeared and that they’ve been praying for their safe return home.

Now, they’re devastated to know they’re gone.

“I was hoping that they’d come home. I didn’t want to think the worst,” said neighbor Sara Vangilder. “Pretty sure that everybody around feels sad cause they didn’t need to be killed. It’s really hard.

A friend of Karissa’s who organized a vigil for their safe return three weeks ago told FOX 12 she’s very heartbroken.

“It’s so unfortunate someone could be that despicable and cruel to do that to another human and your own kin no matter the circumstance,” she wrote.

“She was very fun,” recalled Brown. “Very outgoing, very, very loud–very adventurous. She was very determined. If she wanted to get something done, she would.”

Brown now wants to remember her dear friend as she saw Karissa last: laughing and having a good time at a concert they attended together just ten days before she went missing.

“It’s just more of a reminder to enjoy the little things in life and don’t take life for granted,” Brown said.

“I’m at peace knowing (Karissa and Billy) are together,” Brown added.

The sheriff’s office says the investigation is continuing and anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Salem Police Department or leave information on the tip line at 503-588-6050.

The CNN Wire contributed to this report.

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