The bodies of an Oregon mother and her three-year-old son have been found following a month-long search.
Authorities say the bodies were found on Saturday in a heavily wooded and very remote area in Yamhill County.
The bodies were identified on 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 son died.
The Fretwells disappeared on May 13. The boy’s biological father was later arrested and charged with kidnapping and aggravated murder.
Twp bodies found in rural Oregon on Saturday have been identified as the missing Karissa Fretwell, 25, and her three-year-old son, William (left). The toddler’s father, Michael Wolfe, 52 (right), was charged last month with aggravated murder and kidnapping
Fretwell and William went missing from Salem, Oregon, on May 13
Court documents show Fretwell went to court last year to establish that her former lover, 52-year-old Michael Wolfe, is Billy’s birth father.
A DNA test verified her claim, and Fretwell then filed a petition seeking $900 a month in child support.
Wolfe, who is married to another woman, was arrested on May 25 at Portland doughnut shop and charged with two counts each of murder and kidnapping based on evidence involving cellphone data and surveillance video.
A paternity test recently revealed that Wolfe was William’s biological father and he was ordered to pay $900 a month in child support. Wolfe is seen here in an undated mugshot
The Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office said the bodies of the mother and son were discovered by searches in a wooded area about 10 miles west of the City of Yamhill.
Wolfe owns property about 9 miles away from the location of the bodies.
According to a probable cause affidavit, on the night of May 13, surveillance video showed Wolfe leaving his place of work, Cascade Steel, in a golf cart during a night shift and then walking toward a treeline.
Six hour later, at 2.30am the next morning, he was seen on video driving the golf cart back to the mill while carrying a white trash bag, reported The Oregonian.
The following day, Fretwell’s phone sent a text message near Wolfe’s home in Gaston
Evidence from a cell phone tower suggests that Wolfe and Fretwell’s phones were in the same area at that time.
Fretwell and her son were reported missing on May 17. When police spoke to Wolfe on May 18, the affidavit says told them he didn’t have any recent contact with them and didn’t know where they were.
Karissa Fretwell’s friend Bethany Brown was distraught at the thought of the young mother and her toddler son being left to rot in the heat, but took solace in the knowledge that ‘at least they were together,’ reported KOIN6.
She added: ‘Billy didn’t get to live life, didn’t get to do anything.’
Wolfe has been jailed since May 25. He is due back in court on Thursday.
Megan Harper, Fretwell’s friend, said Wolfe and Fretwell had an affair when they were both working at a McMinville steel mill years ago.
‘There was never a relationship there,’ Harper told KATU. ‘She never knew he was married until after a couple weeks of her being pregnant. Then he offered to pay for an abortion.’
But Harper said Wolfe later wanted to have full custody of William.
‘That was her fear, him taking her child away,’ she added. ‘My first thought when she went missing was that he’d done something.’
Multiple friends of Fretwell said Wolfe began to send her worrying messages.
‘There were all these warning signs,’ Harper said. ‘He would send her creepy things in the mail.’
Harper said she was supposed to watch William on May 17 but never heard from her friend. They had last spoken days before, on May 11, when Fretwell asked Harper about installing a security camera system called Ring.
Fretwell and her son were reported missing on May 17 by family after she didn’t show up for work. Their last known location was west Salem.
The mother was killed with a gunshot wound to the head as a result of a homicide. Her son’s cause and manner of death are still pending
Harper said Wolfe later wanted to have full custody of William. ‘That was her fear, him taking her child away,’ she said.