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Home  >  Topics  >  Investigations

August 26, 2002
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Search of Kidnapping Suspect's Oregon Home Continues

OREGON CITY, Ore., (CNN) -- Investigators on Monday were resuming their search for human remains at the home of a suspect in the kidnapping and murder of two teenage girls after discovering two bodies - including that of one of the missing girls - buried in the backyard over the weekend. Meanwhile, a newspaper reported that the father of suspect Ward Weaver is on Death Row in California for two murders, including that of a 23-year-old woman whom he kidnapped, raped and killed before burying her body in the yard of his home.

POLICE ANNOUNCED Sunday that they had identified one of the bodies found on the property as that of Miranda Gaddis, one of two girls who disappeared from the same apartment complex early this year. They said the body was found Saturday in a shed behind Weaver's rented house.

Investigators were continuing to work to determine whether the second set of remains, found Sunday in a barrel beneath a concrete slab Weaver had poured behind the home, were those of the other missing girl, Ashley Pond, said Oregon City Police Chief Gordon Huiras.

No charges have been filed against Weaver, who is in custody on an unrelated rape charge, but Charles Mathews, the FBI's special agent in charge in Oregon, for the first time identified Weaver as a suspect in the case.

'A SAD CONCLUSION'
Miranda Gaddis, left, and Ashley Pond, two teen-age girls who disappeared from the same apartment complex in Oregon City, Oregon two months apart

"Obviously, this is a very sad conclusion to this investigation," Mathews said at a news conference. "On the other hand, I think the case has been resolved."

Weaver has denied involvement in the girls' disappearances.

There was no indication that investigators expected to find more bodies at the home, but FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said Sunday that the agency was using "every legal means" at its disposal to investigate the property.

Weaver was arrested Aug. 13 on unrelated rape charges involving his 19-year-old son's girlfriend. Following the alleged rape, the upset son told 9-1-1 dispatchers that his father killed both Ashley and Miranda.

Weaver remains in the Clackamas County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail until the rape trial, which has been scheduled for Oct. 10. That date may change if Weaver faces charges related to the bodies discovered Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, The Oregonian newspaper reported Sunday that Weaver's father, Ward Francis Weaver Jr., is now on Death Row in California for two murders.

The truck driver was convicted of killing a man whose car had broken down and for kidnapping, raping and murdering the man's girlfriend, 23-year-old Barbara Levoy. Her body was found in 1982 buried beneath a deck at his home in Oroville, Calif., the newspaper said.

The prosecutor in that case, Ron Shumaker, said the elder Weaver's truck route also matched up with 26 unsolved hitchhiker homicides but he was never charged with any of the other crimes, the Oregonian reported.

For Barbara Levoy's brother, Bob Levoy, the search at the younger Weaver's home is raising bad memories.

"It's like it's all happening all over again," Levoy of Lebanon, Mo., told KPTV in Portland. "And I know how the parents of those girls are feeling. I'm glad they've finally started to do some digging."

Weaver's attorney, Timothy Lyons, told The Oregonian that his client provided written authorization for the search because he wanted to "bring closure to the families."

SUSPECT KNEW GIRLS
Weaver knew Ashley, who was a friend of his daughter. She frequently stayed overnight at the Weaver house, went on a trip to California last year with Weaver and his daughter, and even lived at the house for several months last year while her own father was in jail on charges of abusing her. Ward Weaver, 39, of Oregon City, Ore., in a recent sheriff's department photograph Ashley disappeared Jan. 9. She was last seen eating breakfast with her younger sister and was to walk to a bus stop near Weaver's home in a low-income development tucked into a wooded valley south of Portland.

Miranda's mother, Michelle Duffey, said she last saw her daughter on March 8.

After the second disappearance, investigators interviewed scores of residents at the complex, went on national television with appeals for information and passed out fliers with pictures of the missing girls.

The FBI received thousands of tips, but were unable to single out a suspect.

Then came the phone call from Weaver's son.

When residents found out, they urged authorities to dismantle a concrete slab that Weaver had poured shortly after Miranda's disappearance, and Ashley's former stepmother taped a sign reading "Dig Me Up" to the slab.

Weaver told reporters several months ago that the FBI considered him the prime suspect. Ashley had accused Weaver of molesting her the previous summer, but he denied the allegations and was never charged.

'LIKE A DAUGHTER'
Weaver, a 39-year-old single father, told The Associated Press in an interview last month that he treated Ashley as a daughter when she came to visit. He said he noticed Ashley often wore halter tops and miniskirts, and that he often asked her to change into something more appropriate while at his house.

Eerie parallels emerge in Oregon City probe "My sister, the first time she saw Ashley, she told me I got to watch myself," Weaver said at the time. "I said 'shut up, she's 12."'

Weaver has said he often gave Ashley a ride to school.

Weaver was evicted from the single-story house after his arrest on the rape charge, and the FBI began searching the property Saturday morning.

Activity in the fenced-off yard picked up around 3 p.m. Saturday, as crime reconstruction teams, digging equipment and FBI agents poured into the fenced-off area. A medical examiner's vehicle pulled up about two hours later and backed into a shed near the house.

Around that time, the girls' grandfathers - Don Martin and Wesley Duffey - abruptly left the search scene, saying they had to be with their daughters.

'GET TO YOUR FAMILY NOW'
"Wes got a call from the FBI that said, 'Get to your family now,' " said Cassie Winter, a friend of the families.

Mathews, of the FBI, later announced that the remains of one person had been found.

Neighbors reacted with horror to the discovery of human remains on the property and said the FBI should have acted sooner.

"I'm kind of surprised it took this long to really go in and search this place," said Aaron Hixon, a 28-year-old neighbor. "The girls had been in and out of his house. He certainly had the opportunity to do whatever he wanted."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.






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