Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ward Weaver: Like Father, Like Son

Convicted and Sentenced to Death

Weaver testified that when struck Robert with the pipe, Robert fell off of the flatbed track, screaming. Weaver said that he told him to "shut up," but he would not. He then struck him again "a couple" of times, and when he finally lay still he had just assumed that Robert was "out." He then climbed back into the truck, showed Barbara the knife and forced her to get into the prisoner transport position described earlier, and drove off. Along the way the two voices inside his head battled it out, with the male voice demanding rape and the voice he referred to as Ladell scolding him. Weaver, of course, yielded to the male's voice.

Weaver claimed during his trial that he had not intended to kill Barbara Levoy. Instead, after he had raped her the second time, he began looking for an isolated place where he could drop her off. As dawn began to break he changed his mind and decided to take her to the Bay Area with him. He ordered her to sit on the truck cab's floor while he offloaded his cargo, and she had complied during the entire 45 minutes that it had taken him to complete his work. Afterward, they drove to Oakland where Weaver needed to pick up another load. He was pulled over along the way, he explained, by a California Highway Patrol officer. He said that he had instructed Barbara to remain quiet. Again she complied, neither attempting to get the patrolman's attention nor trying to escape. After finishing up with the officer, Weaver drove on to Oakland and picked up the new load.

 According to Weaver's testimony, it was about 11:00 p.m. on February 6, 1981, while driving toward his home, that he made the decision to tie her up, gag her, and leave her overnight beneath a bridge. He claimed that he'd had the intention of returning the next day during a scheduled run to Los Angeles to pick her up, and then drive her to the Los Angeles warehouse district, where he would let her go. However, his plan hadn't worked out. After binding her securely with the electrical tape, he attempted to place a cloth diaper into her mputh to gag her and keep her quiet until his return. But she hadn't cooperated with him. She put up a struggle, and bit him on the thumb — she bit him hard, and wouldn't let go. He said that he struck her with his fist, twice, and then blacked out for a while. The next thing he knew, he had wrapped the cloth diaper around her neck and strangled her. He stopped when she had let go of his thumb, and realized that she had slumped over. After realizing that she was dead, the male voice inside his head instructed him to get rid of the evidence by burying her body.

Much earlier, before Weaver had even been arraigned in this case, his defense attorney had raised the issue of whether his client was competent to stand trial. As a result, two psychiatrists were appointed by the court to examine Weaver and make a determination regarding his sanity. On October 27, 1982, the psychiatrists presented their findings to the court: both doctors had agreed that Weaver was legally competent to stand trial. Furthermore, the jury that heard his case didn't buy the two voices in his head scheme. What some people had considered an apparent attempt at putting on an insanity defense just hadn't worked out for him. The jury found him guilty of both murders under special circumstances, among several other charges related to the case, and sentenced him to death. He has been waiting, however, a long time for his appointment with the executioner.

In part because he was a long-haul truck driver whose route consisted primarily of the north-south I-5 corridor, some people in law enforcement familiar with his case believe that he could be connected to the unsolved disappearances of 24 hitchhikers that occurred along his route through California, Oregon, and Washington.

As chilling as the details in Ward Weaver Jr.'s case were, the investigators that were attempting to build a case against his son in Oregon had no idea how unnerving those details would be until they related the elder Weaver's case to that of his son. The similarities in the two cases went far beyond chilling.

 

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