Ray Mason Whitson Jr. was identified on January 6, 2022, as the lead suspect in a double homicide that took place in a rural area of Klamath County, Oregon. The case has been cleared by exception due to the death of Whitson.
The skeletal remains of two youths were found on November 17, 1978, near the Lake of the Woods, by an individual cutting firewood. The bodies were identified as 19-year-old Kirk Leonard Wiseman and 17-year-old Cynthia Lynn Frayer. The remains of a small dog were found with Kirk. The teenagers were originally from California, and it is thought that they were hitchhiking in the area, perhaps on their way to Crater Lake. Frayer had been sexually assaulted, and then the couple were shot several times in the head with a .22 calibre firearm.
In 2019, investigators developed a DNA profile of an unknown male from biological material found on Frayer’s clothing. There were no hits in CODIS. The FGG investigation was performed by Parabon Nanolabs. The final confirmation was made to living family members of Whitson. Investigators have stated that the FGG investigation cost about $8,000 and was funded by the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators have learned that Whitson lived near Klamath Falls at the time of the murders and was very familiar with the area where the bodies were found, having gone camping there often. Whitson died in Texas in 1996. He had no criminal record.
At the time of the murders, officers suspected an unnamed man who had given the couple a ride near Grants Pass. He has since passed away.
With the closure of the case, several personal effects found with Frayer, including a pair of earrings and some letters and postcards she had written, can now be returned to her family.
Gailey, Brian. “43-Year-Old Klamath County Cold Case Solved.” Klamath Falls News, January 6, 2022. Accessed January 8, 2022. https://www.klamathfallsnews.org/news/43-year-old-klamath-county-cold-case-solved.
Parfitt, Jamie. “DNA Helps Klamath County Investigators Identify Suspect in Unsolved 1978 Double Murder.” KRDV ABC News 12, January 6, 2022. Accessed January 8, 2022. https://www.kdrv.com/content/news/DNA-helps-Klamath-County-investigators-identify-suspect-in-unsolved-1978-double-murder-576020731.html.
Seiss, Joe. “Case of Teen Hitchhikers Shot in Head Lay Fallow for 43 Years; Noe, Oregon Police Say they Know the Killer.” The Oregonian, January 8, 2022. Accessed January 8, 2022. https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/2022/01/case-of-teen-hitchhikers-shot-in-head-lay-fallow-for-43-years-now-oregon-police-say-they-know-the-killer.html.