PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Michael Wolfe, who admitted to killing Karissa Fretwell and their 3-year-old son Billy and dumping their bodies in a remote wooded area in Yamhill County, was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday.
Wolfe pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and second-degree murder on June 17, exactly 3 years after Karissa and Billy’s bodies were found. His plea removed the death penalty as a potential consequence.
On Wednesday, Yamhill County Judge Eric Bergstrom issued life sentences to Wolfe for both charges. The aggravated murder sentence allows the possibility of parole after 30 years and the second-degree murder sentence allows the possibility of parole after 25 years. Wolfe will receive credit for the time he’s served in custody since his arrest.
Wolfe, who is now 55, was Billy’s biological father. Court documents showed Fretwell and Wolfe had been in a child support battle over Billy.
Friends told KOIN 6 News Wolfe threatened Fretwell when he learned she was pregnant, and friends added he kept her and Billy a secret from his wife and grown children, who didn’t learn about the boy until he was about a year old.
Karissa and Billy went missing on May 13, 2019. They were reported missing 4 days later. Wolfe was arrested at a Blue Star Donuts in downtown Portland on May 24, 2019 and has been in jail since.
Karissa’s cause of death was determined to be a gunshot wound to the head. She was 25.
On Monday, Karissa’s parents, Nyla and Kirk Bales, shared some thoughts about losing their daughter and grandson so tragically.
“We were numb, you know, from the time they were reported until they told us they had found them,” Kirk told KOIN 6 News.
Nyla said her daughter Karissa loved and protected Billy. Karissa was a single mom who dedicated her life to provide for Billy, working full-time and going to college full-time.
Karissa was working to become a high school English teacher, Nyla said.
But the hole in their hearts will always be there.
“To me, it’s what grief is about. The memories that we don’t get,” Nyla said. “And he should be 6 now. So it took half of his life to get this done with. And that makes me sad. But I imagine what he’d be like and, you know, it’s nice.”
In an impact statement given at Wolfe’s sentencing Wednesday, Katrina Kent, Karissa’s sister, said, “You had a choice and you chose to murder your own son and his mother… I hope you are reminded daily of why you are in there and every time you close your eyes you see their faces and it haunts you the way your selfish decisions haunt us.”