Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Police in Oregon arrest three for murder, one is child-killer Ward Weaver’s stepson

Francis Paul Weaver

Francis Paul Weaver

When Ward Francis Weaver III was convicted of rape and murder in 2002, it was soon discovered that he was the son of convicted rapist Ward Weaver Jr., on death row for killing two people in 1981. This week, Ward Weaver’s stepson Francis Paul Weaver, who helped convict his stepfather in 2002, has been arrested for murder. If convicted he would be the third consecutive generation of Weaver men imprisoned for murder.

Police in Canby, Oregon, have arrested three men in connection with the fatal 5 a.m. shooting of Edward Spangler, 43, on Sunday. Neighbors called 911 about a car crash and possible hit and run. Responders arrived to find that Spangler, who who was shot in the face and shoulder, had crashed into a utility pole, then exited his SUV and collapsed, according to Sgt. Frank Schoenfeld. Despite neighbors attempting CPR on Spangler, he was declared dead at the scene.

In addition to gunshot wounds, Spangler also sustained head wounds, probably in the crash. A coroner later confirmed that cause of death was from the gunshots.

Michael Orren, left, and Shannon Bettencourt

Michael Orren, left, and Shannon Bettencourt

 

Witness interviews, combined with the find of 15 pounds of marijuana in the victim’s SUV, led investigators to conclude that Spangler had been involved in a drug deal at a nearby apartment, when he was robbed and shot. Police reportedly found the murder weapon, and on Monday arrested Michael Orren, 27, and Shannon Bettencourt, 32, charging them with first and second-degree murder respectively.

Ward Weaver III

Ward Weaver III

Tuesday, police arrested Francis Weaver, 31, Ward Weaver III‘s stepson. Police believe that Francis Weaver was also present at the fatal shooting. He is charged with murder. All three suspects are being held without bail in the Clackamas County jail.

In an interview Wednesday Francis Weaver’s mother, Maria Shaw, Ward Weaver’s first wife, insisted that her son is innocent, “He’s not guilty. They want (to arrest) him so bad because they think he’s Ward Weaver’s son.” Police have not yet made public the evidence against Francis Weaver.

In 2002, Francis Weaver, then 19, told investigators that his stepfather had confessed to him about a plan to leave the area because of “bad things” he had done. At the time neither knew that they were not biologically related. That only came out during extensive DNA testing performed during the 2002 investigation. When Francis Weaver told investigators that he believed his stepfather was referring to missing teens Miranda Gaddis and Ashley Pond, it gave them probable cause for a search warrant on Ward Weaver’s home and property. Authorities found the girls’ bodies on the property. Ward Weaver was ultimately convicted of raping and killing them both.

Ward Weaver Jr.

Ward Weaver Jr.

When Ward Weaver was arrested in 2002, it was discovered that he was the son of Ward Weaver Jr., on death row for raping Barbara Levoy and killing her and her fiancé Robert Radford in 1981, and burying them in his yard.

Mallori Weaver in 2010

Mallori Weaver in 2010

Since 2002,  the only other member of the Weaver family to encounter any legal problems is Mallori Weaver, Ward Weaver daughter, Mallori, by Maria Shaw. Mallori was 12 when her father killed her friends Miranda and Ashley. In 2010, at age 21, Mallori was implicated in a scuffle at a Portland, Oregon, hospital the day after her mother was admitted for mental health issues. According to hospital staff, Mallori Weaver and her stepfather Daniel Shaw tried to remove Maria Shaw from the mental health unit by force. Mallori Weaver was charged with attempted assault, disorderly conduct, criminal trespassing and harassment. She was tried and acquitted of all charges.

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