Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ward Weaver: Like Father, Like Son

Human Remains Found

Oregon City Police Chief Gordon Huiras
Oregon City Police Chief Gordon Huiras

Shortly after the search commenced the next day, Saturday, August 24, 2002, Oregon City Police Chief Gordon Huiras announced that a set of human remains had been found inside a cardboard box that had been placed in a storage shed behind Weaver's house. It was not immediately clear how long the remains had been there, but it was obvious that positive identification would not be immediate. The remains were taken away by the state medical examiner's office, and Chief Huiras told reporters that it would likely take several days to make a positive identification.

Cement cutter used at the Weaver Home
Cement cutter used at the Weaver Home

According to the FBI's Charles Matthews, approximately 40 investigators from the FBI, state, and local police would continue to search the property and had already made plans to bring in underground imaging equipment the following day. He said they also planned to dig up a concrete slab that Weaver had poured after the two girls had disappeared.

FBI Underground Imaging Equipment
FBI Underground Imaging Equipment

The following morning, investigators worked diligently to remove the concrete slab in Weaver's backyard. Afterward, they discovered a 55-gallon barrel that had been buried beneath the slab. Not surprisingly, they found a second set of human remains inside the barrel.

Tents at Weaver Home
Tents at Weaver Home

By this time, a media circus had converged on the area, as had supporters, friends, and relatives of the missing girls. One of Weaver's ex-wives had also shown up, and she told CNN that there had been "no doubt" in her mind that Weaver had killed the two girls. She said that she had urged the FBI to investigate Weaver several months earlier, and was "frustrated and disgusted" that it had taken so long to bring the case to this point. She claimed that she had first become suspicious when Weaver had poured the concrete slab in the middle of the night. She said that he had claimed that it was for a hot tub, one that he never installed.

"If only people would have listened to me five months ago and tried to understand why I was so frustrated and why I was trying to get the attention (to focus) on him," she said. "It's not because I'm an ex-wife and because I have hate against him. When the first remains were found, I was hysterical."

Lori Pond and Michelle Duffy (Ashley's Mother)
Lori Pond and Michelle Duffy (Ashley's Mother)

Within a few days the remains found in Weaver's backyard were positively identified as those of Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis. Ashley's remains were those found in the barrel beneath the cement slab, and Miranda's were those found in the cardboard box in the storage shed.

A few weeks later, the facts of the case were presented to a grand jury and Ward Weaver III was indicted on multiple counts of aggravated murder, rape and sexual abuse in connection with the deaths of Ashley and Miranda, as well as two counts of second-degree abuse of a corpse. He was also indicted on counts of rape and sexual abuse in connection with the attack on his son's girlfriend, and similar charges were leveled against him in connection with the rape and sexual abuse of another young girl that allegedly occurred in July 2002. The district attorney's office was considering pursuing the death penalty in connection with the aggravated murder counts associated with Ashley's and Miranda's murders, but a decision had yet to be made.

Meanwhile, retired detectives Garry Davis and Glenn Johnson, who had worked on Ward Weaver Jr.'s case 20 years earlier while employed by the Kern County Sheriff's Department and had helped dig up Barbara Levoy's body from Weaver's backyard, watched in shocked disbelief as Ward Weaver III's case unfolded on television news stories nationwide. They found the similarities between the two cases eerie and unsettling, almost unbelievable.

"Our parents are our teachers, and Ward Weaver III had a horrible teacher in his father," Johnson told a reporter for the Daily Iowan. "Apparently, the fruit doesn't fall very far from the tree....He (the elder Weaver) is the type of person who has to get to know his victims and befriend them, in a sense. That would sexually excite him for the assault."

"The name reaches out to me, and it's like a cold hand grabbing my heart," Davis said to a reporter for a story that was picked up by AP. "You flash back to digging at his house, and now I'm seeing this, and I'm thinking it's so scary — it seems like he set out to get a cell next to his father."

 

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