Karissa Fretwell and her son, William, have been missing since May 13

By Chris Harris
May 27, 2019 01:02 PM
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Karissa-Swetwel
Credit: Facebook

An Oregon man is behind bars, accused of killing a 25-year-old woman and their 3-year-old son, who both remain missing, PEOPLE confirms.

Michael John Wolfe, 52, was arrested on Friday and charged with the presumed kidnapping and presumed murder of Karissa Fretwell and their son, William. The two have been missing from Salem, Oregon, since May 13.

Karissa and William Fretwell
Credit: Karissa Fretwell/Facebook

Wolfe was arrested in Portland, it was announced at a Friday press conference.

Investigators clarified that the charges do not mean Fretwell and her son are dead, but acknowledged there was sufficient probable cause to warrant his arrest.

The search for the mother and son continues.

“Everybody involved in this case continues to hope for a safe return for Karissa and William,”​​​​ Salem Police Department Lt. Treven Upkes told reporters.

Fretwell and William were reported missing May 17. The last time they were seen alive was four days earlier.

Michael John Wolfe
Michael John Wolfe
| Credit: Salem Police Department

Wolfe is married, but not to Fretwell. His paternity of William was established with a DNA test, according to the Statesman Journal.

The relationship between Wolfe and Fretwell is unclear, though a friend of Fretwell’s told KATU2 that they had had an affair when they worked together at a McMinnville steel mill. She said Fretwell had not known, at that time, that Wolfe was married. “There was never a relationship there. She never knew he was married until after a couple weeks of her being pregnant. Then he offered to pay for an abortion,” the friend, Megan Harper, told KATU2.

Harper also told KATU there had been a “custody battle” at play among Wolfe and Fretwell. “My first thought when she first went missing was that he’d done something,” Harper told the station.

Before he was arrested, detectives searched Wolfe’s home in Gaston for several days.

Authorities have been searching in the surrounding area, looking for any sign of the missing mother and son. Dive teams have searched large bodies of water in the area.

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Wolfe is being held without bail and it was unclear Monday if he had appeared before a judge to plead to the charges he faces.

Upkes told reporters on Friday that Wolfe’s wife is not missing or in danger.

Karissa is described as 5 feet 9 inches and weighs approximately 135 pounds. She has blue eyes and dyed red hair. William has blond hair and blue eyes. He is approximately 3 feet tall, and weighs approximately 30 pounds.