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Michael Wolfe sentenced to life in prison for the 2019 murders of his 3-year-old son and child's mother

Karissa Alyn Fretwell and her son William "Billy" Fretwell were killed in 2019. Wolfe, the boy's father, pleaded guilty to their murders in June.

YAMHILL COUNTY, Ore. — Michael Wolfe was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison for the 2019 murders of Salem resident Karissa Alyn Fretwell and her 3-year-old son William "Billy" Fretwell.

Wolfe, the boy's father, was arrested in late May 2019 and charged with two counts of aggravated murder and kidnapping. On June 17, Wolfe entered guilty pleas to one count of aggravated murder and one count of second-degree murder.

RELATED: Michael Wolfe pleads guilty to murder in 2019 deaths of Salem mother and her 3-year-old son

On Wednesday morning, Wolfe was given a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 30 years for the count of aggravated murder and a second life sentence with the possibility of parole after 25 years for the count of second-degree murder. The two sentences will be served concurrently and Wolfe is entitled to credit for time served.

Credit: Salem police
Karissa Fretwell and her 3-year-old son, William.

Three members of the family — Fretwell's mother, father and sister — spoke in court before the sentencing was announced Wednesday.

Katrina Kent, sister to Karissa and aunt to Billy, talked about her children and how she's struggled trying to answer their questions about their aunt and cousin. She said her son, who was 6 years old at the time of the murders, was given a school assignment to write in his journal his greatest wish.

"He wrote that his one wish was to have his aunt and cousin back because he misses them and doesn't know why someone could be so mean," Kent said. "He also asked me this morning before I came to court to make sure that you know that he cries all the time because you took the people he loved away from him."

Kent addressed Wolfe directly, saying, "I hope every time you close your eyes you see their faces and it haunts you the way your selfish decisions haunt us. ... You are a monster."

Credit: Pool
Michael Wolfe in court during his sentencing for the 2019 murders of Karissa Fretwell and her 3-year-old son Billy Fretwell on Wednesday, July 20, 2022.

Nyla Bales, Karissa's mother and Billy's grandmother, said she hopes Wolfe thinks about his own daughter and imagines what it would be like to lose her in the way she lost Karissa.

"I want him to imagine looking at his own daughter," she said. "Remember how excited you were when she was born, taught her to walk, ride a bike, first day of school, watching her learn new things and grow up, seeing her prom, graduation, sending her to college so she could follow her dreams? I want him to remember those wonderful times that a parent gets to enjoy. Now, he needs to imagine what would happen if she met someone like him, to tear her away from his family. I want him to think about that every day for the rest of his life."

Kirk Bales, Karissa's father and Billy's grandfather, said Wolfe is "one of the lowest forms on earth."

"We are here today because an individual didn't want to be responsible for a child he brought into this world," he said. "Instead, he decided to play God and Mr. William and his mother, Karissa, are no longer here."

KGW spoke with Nyla and Kirk Bales at their home on Wednesday afternoon after the sentencing. 

"It closes a chapter and we’re able to move forward. It's been a long three years," Kirk said. "We knew the outcome that we ended up getting was probably going to be the outcome."

"I’ve kind of felt that he wasn’t worth all of the emotion that I’d have to put in for the anger," said Nyla, "I kind of feel indifferent to him, even from the beginning. I know I can’t change anything that he did ... he ruined our daughter and grandson’s life. I refuse to let him ruin mine."

Karissa, who was 25 years old when she was killed, and her son, William, were last seen on May 13, 2019 and reported missing several days later.

RELATED: 'The only thing we can do is be hopeful': Friends, family pray for safe return of Salem mother, toddler

Wolfe was arrested in late May 2019. At the time, Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry said there was "sufficient evidence" to confirm Karissa and William had been killed even though their bodies had not yet been found.

Two months previously, Wolfe had been ordered to pay roughly $900 a month in child support after Karissa took him to court to prove he was the father.

Court documents said detectives met with William's babysitter, who said Karissa confided in her that Wolfe and his wife had previously threatened Karissa and told her they were going to take William and get custody of him.

Searchers ultimately found the bodies in June 2019, hidden in a heavily wooded area about 10 miles west of Yamhill.

RELATED: Bodies of Salem mother, 3-year-old son were partially hidden and covered with debris, DA says

Karissa's cause of death was determined back in 2019 to be homicide by a single gunshot wound to the head. William's cause of death will remain undetermined, Berry said.

VIDEO: Michael Wolfe pleads guilty to murdering his 3-year-old son and child's mother

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