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FBI finds remains at man's home in missing girls case

Sunday, August 25, 2002

OREGON CITY, Ore. -- The FBI uncovered human remains Saturday in an outbuilding behind the house of Ward Weaver, the self-described No. 1 suspect in the case of two missing girls who lived across the street, officials said.

The remains of one person were found hidden in a shed, said Charlie Mathews, special agent in charge of the FBI's Portland office. Teams continued to look under a concrete slab directly behind the house for more remains, he said.

Police chief Gordon Huiras said the body had been turned over the medical examiner and had not been identified.

The FBI began searching Weaver's property Saturday morning; police erected a chainlink fence around the property late Friday.

After a quiet morning Saturday, activity at the scene picked up around 3 p.m. as crime reconstruction teams, digging equipment and FBI agents poured into the fenced area. A medical examiner's vehicle pulled up about two hours later and backed into a shed near the house.

Suspect knew missing girls

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

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

Weaver, a 39-year-old single father who knew both Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis, was evicted from the single-story house after his arrest Aug. 13 on charges he raped his son's 19-year-old girlfriend.

The night of the alleged rape, his angry and distraught son told 911 dispatchers that his father had confessed to killing Ashley and Miranda.

Weaver has pleaded innocent to the charge and denied any involvement in the girls' disappearances, but has told the media that he is considered a suspect.

The two 13-year-old girls, friends who lived in the same apartment complex near Weaver's home, vanished within two months of each other this past winter.

On Saturday morning, police set up two large white portable tents behind Weaver's house. One appeared to be over the concrete slab; the other was farther back near a shed.

Three search dogs worked the property, along with about 40 investigators from the FBI, Oregon City Police and the Oregon State Police.

Ashley disappeared Jan. 9. She was last seen eating breakfast with her younger sister and was to walk about eight minutes to a bus stop near Weaver's home. Michelle Duffey, Miranda's mother, last saw her daughter in a bathrobe eating breakfast on March 8.

Linda Beloof, an attorney representing the girls' mothers, said the women "were in a safe place" and didn't want to talk with the media.

Mathews said investigators would next focus on removing the concrete slab.

"There are other areas of interest on the property that investigators will be moving to actively," he said.


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