YAMHILL COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN) — The man accused of murder and kidnapping in the disappearance of a Salem woman and her 3-year-son will make his first court appearance on Tuesday afternoon.
Michael Wolfe, 52, is being held without bail in the Yamhill County Jail after he was arrested in downtown Portland on Friday. Wolfe faces 2 counts of aggravated murder and 2 counts of kidnapping but detectives have not said exactly what they believe happened to 25-year-old Karissa Fretwell and her son, Billy. They said they had probable cause for an arrest. The charges could be changed or reduced by the Yamhill County District Attorney.
Investigators are still looking for the 25-year-old and her son. They were reported missing May 17.
Police confirmed what a paternity test found last year — that Wolfe is Billy’s biological father.
How Fretwell and Wolfe met
Fretwell’s friends said she and Wolfe met while she was working at Jimmy Johns in McMinnville.
“She would deliver sandwiches to him, and he would request her to bring the sandwiches,” Fretwell’s friend Bethany Brown said.
Wolfe was working at Cascade Steele, where Fretwell also eventually started working part-time as a security guard.
Friends told KOIN 6 News Wolfe threatened Fretwell after learning she was pregnant. He kept her and Billy a secret from his wife and grown children.
“I know they had some problems because he was married, and she was a little scared of him,” Fretwell’s former roommate Niccomi Holcomb said. “Because after she got pregnant, he did threaten her at one time.”
Wolfe’s family didn’t learn about the child until he was about a year old.
Fretwell wanted child support from Wolfe
Last year, Fretwell went to court to get child support from Wolfe.
“I think the child support kind of topped it off for Michael. I think he – I don’t want to think that he did anything but – it’s just super weird that the time frame was like three or four weeks ago, and I think her first child support check she was supposed to receive like June 2019,” Brown said.
Brown also said Wolfe had co-helped Fretwell get an apartment at one point.
“Michael helped her co-sign on the apartment and helped her pay move-in costs to get into the apartment and he had a second key made,” she said. “There were multiple occasions that he was in the apartment when she got home and she didn’t like that.”
Eventually, Fretwell and Billy moved to Salem.
Wolfe was also a former volunteer firefighter for the Gaston Fire Department, described by fellow first responders as quiet and professional. He hasn’t worked there since 2016.
Friends hope Frentwell and her son will return home safely
On Monday night, friends and strangers gathered at the Maud Williamson Recreation Site near Wheatland, refusing to give up hope that the young mother and her son will return home safe.
“We’re still looking and we’re still hopeful for the safe return of Karissa and Billy,” vigil organizer Mykeal Moats said. “I just felt like after the news and the updates we got, that was kind of disheartening and that we needed something to bring us together and remain hopeful for their return.
Friends said the vigil was not meant to remember Karissa and Billy, but to remind people they’re still missing.
KOIN 6 News will have more information later in the day