Oregon Police Unearth Killer Ray Whitson in 1978 Murders of Cynthia Frayer and Kirk Wiseman

Police in Oregon believe they have identified the man who brutally murdered two teenagers more than four decades ago, a case that has haunted investigators and deputies ever since.

Kirk Leonard Wiseman, 19, and Cynthia Lynn Frayer, 17, were found dead on a cold November day near the Lake of the Woods in rural Southern Oregon in 1978. They hitchhiked, according to police. . Coroners found Frayer had been sexually assaulted, and that both she and Wiseman were killed by bullets to the head from a .22-caliber firearm, a relatively small firearm. A man who was cutting firewood during the night discovered the bodies.

Former Sheriff Dan Tofell of Klamath Falls told Oregonians, “It was a very horrible scene. It’s not every day that you see two young men killed their way… I still remember it very well. I can still picture it.”

Authorities now believe Ray Whitson Jr killed the pair. They were led to him after police discovered DNA on Frayer’s clothes in 2019. The 40-year-old genetic material was initially identified as belonging only to “unknown number 1 male”, but analysis advanced identified Whitson as a prime suspect in 2021. A lab analyzed the DNA in The Golden State Killer case, Parabon Nanolabs, extracted Whitson’s identity from the DNA found on Frayer.

“You could say whoever does that has no respect for human life, the way bodies are handled,” Tofell said.

Whitson, who worked in a lumber mill near Klamath Falls, died in 1996. He had no criminal record.

“If only 10, 15 years ago… we would have held that individual accountable in a way that we cannot now. What we can do is bring closure to a family,” said Klamath district attorney, Eve Costello.

She said the DNA evidence might be enough to convict Whitson that he was still alive, but she now considers the case closed.

Frayer had a letter from her mother at the time of her death. It has been kept as evidence for years with the case still unsolved, but now police will return it to Frayer’s mother along with a pair of her daughter’s earrings.


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