YAMHILL COUNTY, OR (KPTV) — The bodies of a missing Salem mother and her son were found in a remote area of Yamhill County, said the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office.
Karissa Fretwell, 25, and her 3-year-old son, William “Billy” Fretwell were reported missing last month. Family members said they had not seen or heard from them since May 13.
The sheriff’s office said ongoing efforts by detectives on Saturday led searchers to a remote area of Yamhill County, about 10 miles west of the city of Yamhill.
Crews searched the heavily wooded and remote area for about two hours before finding two bodies.
The sheriff’s office says the bodies were recovered with the assistance of the Oregon State Crime Lab and were sent to the Oregon State Medical Examiner for autopsy.
On Sunday, the bodies were positively identified as Karissa and Billy Fretwell.
Karissa’s cause of death was determined to be from a single gunshot to the head, and the manner of death was determined to be homicide.
The cause and manner of death of Billy is yet to be determined, pending additional testing.
For Karissa’s best friend, Bethany Brown, the news is devastating but also expected.
“I kind of knew,” Brown said. “People just don’t stay away from their phones for a month.”
Last month, 52-year-old Michael John Wolfe was charged with two counts of aggravated murder and two counts of kidnapping in connection with Karissa and Billy Fretwell’s disappearance. Court documents state Wolfe is Billy’s biological father.
“I don’t know what kind of person he is,” Brown said. “Just sick and a monster.”
Wolfe is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.
Meanwhile in Salem, there is a memorial with a stuffed animal and fresh flowers on the hood of Karissa’s car just outside of her apartment.
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.