Karissa Fretwell was a 25-year-old mom living in Salem, Oregon. She had a 3-year-old son named William Fretwell, whom she affectionately nicknamed Billy. Karissa and Billy lived in a small apartment together. Billy’s dad wanted nothing to do with him and was not involved in his life, or Karissa’s really for that matter.
On her Facebook profile, Karissa described her son as “my world.” She worked hard to support herself and her son, holding down a job as a security guard while also attending Western Oregon University to study education.
On Friday, May 17th, Karissa’s family reported her as missing to the Salem Police Department after not hearing from her for four long days and after she failed to show up to her job. They were seriously concerned because it was not like Karissa to just disappear, let alone with her young son.
Facebook; pictured above in black and white, Karissa and Billy smile together
Karissa was reliable. She was responsible. She didn’t miss work. She didn’t fail to call and text her family back. She owned several cats, and wouldn’t leave town without having someone lined up to care for them.
“My darling boy, I love you. When I’m struggling with life, you keep me grounded. When I’m struggling with being a mom, you come to me with arms wide open, you rest your head on my shoulder, and hold me tight. You push me to be a better person, a better mom, and live a whole new life I never imagined possible,” Karissa captioned a photo of herself and her son on her Facebook page.
Facebook; in the photo above, Karissa sits with Billy on her lap in front of some beautiful flowers
Salem Police Department released a statement about Karissa, “On May 17, 2019, the Salem Police Department was contacted by family members of Karissa Alyn Fretwell, age 25 of Salem, to file a missing persons report.
Karissa’s family told police they had not seen or heard from her or her three-year-old son, William (Billy) Fretwell, since May 13.”
Some of Karissa’s neighbors said that not long before she disappeared, they heard something weird coming from her apartment.
Normally, Karissa was a very quiet person and didn’t make any noise or cause any disturbances to her neighbors. She always kept to herself. Neighbors also confirmed she worked in security and had lived there for about a year.
Two months before Karissa went missing, her neighbors said to KOIN 6 that they, “heard a man and woman arguing incredibly loud.”
Facebook; Karissa snaps a selfie in the above photo of her and Billy laying side by side together and smiling
They went on to say, “The man was swearing a lot and there was a kid crying in the background, and the woman was yelling at him to get out of her apartment.”
That was completely out of character for this kind and good-natured mom who didn’t disturb the peace of her neighborhood.
Police had knocked on neighbors doors asking if they had seen or heard from Karissa, and nobody had. Karissa’s sister went around to the neighbors asking about her as well. They found Karissa’s apartment completely unlocked, and her only credit card and pair of glasses were inside.
Facebook; Karissa smiles in the above photo while she holds Billy
One of Karissa’s neighbors, Robert Allen, said that he told Karissa’s sister that he would look in her windows intermittently to see if he could find any signs of her.
He added, “I have noticed that the television screen, it’s been on the same screen for about a week, so obviously there’s no one in the apartment.”
What’s really weird is that one of Karissa’s friends told police that just six days before she vanished into thin air, she asked about how to install a Ring video doorbell, which is used for security. Why was this mom concerned for her safety and that of her son?
Facebook; Karissa smiles in the above photo while holding Billy on her shoulders
Authorities found Karissa’s white Pontiac Grand Am parked right outside of her apartment on the side of the street. In the backseat, they could see Billy’s car seat. Where would she and Billy have gone if she hadn’t taken her car with her?
Facebook; Karissa holds Billy and smiles in the above photo while at her graduation ceremony, wearing a cap and gown
Authorities also found another car parked right in front of Karissa’s Grand Am, a green colored Mercury Mountaineer.
On the front seat of the car on the passenger’s side, they could see an application Karissa had filled out for financial aid from her college, and her signature was clearly on it.
Megan Harper, one of Karissa’s friends who lives nearby in McMinnville, said to The Statesman Journal:
“I feel ill with worry about William. Last night, I held my daughter’s hand so tightly while she slept and I couldn’t sleep because my mind was going over all the possibilities of what could be happening to him.”
Facebook; Karissa and Billy are pictured above together smiling and enjoying some outside time
Megan was supposed to watch Billy for Karissa on the night of May 17th, which is the day Karissa was reported to police as missing by her family.
Megan says she never heard from Karissa that evening, and she added: “She has a strong work ethic. She’d never miss work.”
Facebook; Karissa snaps a selfie of her and Billy in the photo above
After one long month of searching for Karissa and Billy, a team from the McMinnville Fire Department located the mom and son.
In a very secluded and remote section of Yamhill County, in a densely forested area of private timberland, the two were discovered. People that live there say it’s a very quiet place, and most of the activity comes from commercial logging.
2 weeks before Karissa and Billy were found, detectives had combed that area of Yamhill County, with no success. They had even come about 800 yards of where Karissa and Billy lay underneath a bunch of debris.
40 more people had been dispatched to this heavily wooded area to help hunt for this mom and son. After two hours of the search starting, they had found Kariss and Billy, laying next to one another, and buried by a bunch of debris that was not native to the surrounding area. They also found a gun lying close to Karissa and Billy.
After being brought in to the state medical examiner, it was determined that Karissa’s cause of death was a homicide.
She sadly died from a gunshot wound to her head. Authorities have revealed that Billy’s cause of death has not yet been determined, and additional testing will need to be performed to determine the cause.
Facebook; Karissa holds Billy and smiles wide at him in the photo above