Tammi Murphy, sister of slaying victim Kori Fredericksen, is consoled Friday morning by prosecutors and a victim’s advocate after defendant Dennis L. Wolter made his first appearance in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of first-degree murder. Murphy said her sister was trying to leave town on the night she was killed.
STEVEN LANE/The Columbian
Slaying victim Kori Fredericksen’s family has set up a bank account to defray funeral and transportation costs. The money will go toward transporting Fredericksen’s body to South Dakota, where most of her family lives. To donate, visit any branch of First Independent Bank and make the donation out to the “Kori Fredericksen fund.”
Kori Fredericksen knew her turbulent four-month relationship with Dennis L. Wolter was over.
So on Wednesday evening, she bought a ticket and tried to board a Greyhound bus bound for South Dakota, where most of her family lived.
But her luggage was 7 pounds over Greyhound’s 50-pound allowance, her sister said. Rather than pay the $40 overweight fee, Fredericksen stayed in Vancouver one more night.
It was her last.
The next morning, Fredericksen, 41, was dead. Her body, repeatedly stabbed, was found at the bottom of a steep embankment along a quiet stretch of the old Evergreen Highway near the Camas city limits.
By then, police had already apprehended Wolter, covered in blood, not far from the scene.
Wolter made his first appearance Friday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of first-degree murder.
At the request of Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik, Judge John Wulle ordered that Wolter be held without bail — a new option passed by voters last year in response to the slaying of four Lakewood police officers. The new law allows judges to deny bail to certain violent offenders awaiting trial.
Attorney Therese Lavallee was appointed to represent Wolter, a 43-year-old maintenance man with at least 29 various criminal convictions on his record. Arraignment was set for June 3.
“I begged and pleaded with her to get away from him,” the victim’s sister, Tammi Murphy, said after the Friday morning hearing. “She was in the process.”
Court documents filed Friday shed light on what police and prosecutors say happened instead. The case began as a routine traffic stop. Camas police pulled over a Dodge pickup early Thursday morning for speeding. An officer noticed the driver’s hands, clothing and face were covered in fresh blood.
The driver, Wolter, claimed that he had just taken his severely injured black Labrador retriever to a veterinary hospital in southeast Portland. When police checked local veterinary hospitals, they found none were treating such a dog.
Meanwhile, Vancouver police searched Wolter’s rental home at 1205 W. 39th St., above the BNSF Railway tracks. They discovered a pool of blood in the driveway and marks indicating something heavy had been dragged there from the house. Officers also found a bent and broken knife blade in the living room, according to court documents. A handle and bloody knives were in the kitchen sink.
The investigation continued. Officers learned that Wolter’s girlfriend, Fredericksen, was no longer staying at the 39th Street house because of a no-contact order imposed after his May 17 arrest on suspicion of fourth-degree assault.
Officers had been called to the home that night after a fight in which Wolter allegedly assaulted Fredericksen and threatened to burn down the house.
Since then, Fredericksen and her young son had been staying with a friend. Late Wednesday night, after failing to board the bus, Fredericksen told the friend that she wanted to retrieve personal items that were in Wolter’s van and left for his house. She wasn’t seen again.
Her friend tried calling Fredericksen’s cell phone late that night and into Thursday morning, according to court documents. No answer.
Early Thursday morning, after Wolter had been stopped, officers also tried calling her cell phone several times. Again, no answer. But where was she?
The answer arrived after daylight. As a detective was interviewing Wolter, Camas police officers found Fredericksen’s body about a half mile from where they stopped his pickup. A bloody shoe was found down an embankment of Evergreen Highway near Southeast 192nd Avenue. Her body was several feet away. She had been stabbed repeatedly.
Wolter has denied killing her or having even seen her since his arrest last week, police said in court documents.
He was mum at his first appearance Friday. Murphy, Fredericksen’s sister, sat a few rows back, sobbing as Wolter approached the judge’s bench.
After the brief hearing, Murphy and two friends tearfully exited the courtroom. They were consoled in the hallway by Deputy Prosecutor Camara Banfield, Golik and a victim’s advocate.
After meeting with prosecutors, Murphy emerged to talk with reporters. Clutching a photo of herself and her sister, Murphy wanted to talk about Kori’s lively spirit.
“She would always run up to me and say, ‘Sissy,’ and give me a hug,” Murphy said. “She was far from perfect, but she was a wonderful person.”
Murphy said her sister began dating Wolter four months ago and the two quickly moved in together. While the relationship started smoothly — he gave her roses and a new kitten — it quickly became turbulent.
During the May 17 incident, police allege it went so far as Wolter pulling out a chunk of her hair when she tried to call 911.
Murphy said her sister was trying to do the right thing by moving on with her life. It would have turned out that way if she had boarded the bus, Murphy said.
“She would be on her way to South Dakota and alive.”
Laura McVicker: 360-735-4516 or firstname.lastname@example.org.