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Single Mom, Son Found Dead on Land Linked to Married Dad

Michael Wolfe had permit to cut wood on Oregon property: police
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2019 7:37 AM CDT
Michael John Wolfe, of Gaston, Ore.   (Salem Police Department via AP, File)
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(Newser) – Police say the bodies of an Oregon mother and her 3-year-old son, missing for a month, have been found concealed in a forest where the boy's father had a permit to cut wood. An autopsy indicates Karissa Fretwell, 25, died of a single gunshot to the head, per Oregon Live. Information on Billy Fretwell's death is not yet available. His father, 52-year-old Michael Wolfe, was charged last month with aggravated murder and kidnapping. He told authorities he was working the night shift at a steel mill in McMinnville on May 13, the day Fretwell was last seen. But detectives say video footage shows him leaving his work area "outside of protocol," walking toward trees near a parking lot, then returning five hours later with a trash bag. His phone had pinged a cell tower covering Fretwell's Salem apartment 25 miles away, though he denied visiting Salem in more than a year, according to an affidavit.

Fretwell's phone, believed to have been near the steel mill, also used a cell tower covering Wolfe's rural property in sending a text on May 14, detectives say. The young mother, who was reportedly living out of her car at times, went to court last year to establish the married Wolfe as father of her son, and he was ordered to pay more than $900 a month in child support, or nearly 30% of his monthly income, reports KOMO News. Wolfe and his wife also threatened to take custody of the boy, according to a babysitter. Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry isn't saying why authorities chose to again search the forest northwest of McMinnville, which had been combed previously. But "I can tell you Wolfe was familiar with this area," he tells the AP. The bodies, covered with debris, were found Saturday—as was a firearm, though detectives aren't certain it's linked to the deaths. (Read more murder stories.)

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