Bodies of Karissa and Billy Fretwell found south of Gaston
The bodies of a Salem woman and her young son believed to have been killed by a Washington County man last month were found on Saturday, June 15, several miles outside of Yamhill.
According to authorities, the bodies of Karissa Fretwell, 25, and William Fretwell, 3, were found about 10 miles west of Yamhill, on Northwest Pike Road.
The bodies were found hidden on private timberlands fewer than 20 miles from the home of accused killer Michael Wolfe, 52, of Gaston.
An autopsy ruled Karissa Fretwell was shot once in the head, investigators said Monday, June 17. The cause of William Fretwell's death is still under investigation.
Authorities in at least three counties have been searching for the Fretwells since May. The pair were last seen May 13 at their home in West Salem and reported missing May 17. Police arrested Wolfe, William's biological father, on May 24.
Wolfe has been indicted on two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of aggravated murder involving domestic violence. Wolfe's arrest followed searches at his Gaston home and the surrounding area.
According to court documents, Fretwell took Wolfe to court last year in Polk County to prove his paternity.
In subsequent court proceedings, Fretwell obtained a court order requiring him to provide child support of about $900 a month.
According to family friends, Fretwell met Wolfe, who is married, in McMinnville. She made deliveries to a McMinnville steel mill where Wolfe worked. He reportedly helped her to afford an apartment in the city. She later moved to West Salem after William was born.
Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry told reporters on Monday that the area of the woods where the bodies were found is familiar to Wolfe, who sometimes traveled to the area to fish. The timberlands are accessible with permits from Seattle-based Weyerhaeuser Company, which owns the land.
"There are other areas within the Weyerhaeuser property that we believe he's had permits before, to cut firewood, up in that area, we're not exactly sure where that was," Berry said. "But we were aware that he was familiar with the area."
Detectives had searched the area two weeks earlier, according to Yamhill County Sheriff Tim Svenson, and came within 800 yards of where the bodies lay concealed.
On Saturday, a group of at least 40 searchers embarked to find the bodies, Svenson said. The bodies were found together, hidden under debris that Berry described as not being "natural" to the area.
A gun has also been found, Berry said, but he couldn't say when or whether investigators knew if it was connected to the murders.
According to News-Times media partner KOIN 6 News, probable cause documents describe the days after Karissa Fretwell went missing and her relationship with Wolfe. They also describe how police watched surveillance footage of Wolfe on the night of May 13, the night the Fretwells allegedly went missing.
The documents also show that Wolfe and Fretwell's cellphones pinged in the same areas that night. Police interviewed Wolfe on May 18 and 20, where he said he hadn't seen them since April 15.
Wolfe is set to be arraigned Friday.
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