Remains of missing Oregon girl identified

Monday, August 26, 2002

OREGON CITY, Ore. -- A second set of human remains was found Sunday at the home of a man who has said he is the prime suspect in the disappearance of two teenage girls, police said. The FBI also identified the body found Saturday in the man's shed as one of the girls.

The second set of remains were found in a barrel beneath a cement slab Ward Weaver, 39, had poured behind the home after the disappearance of neighbors Miranda Gaddis and Ashley Pond this past winter, said Oregon City Police Chief Gordon Huiras.

No charges had been filed in the case, said Charles Mathews, the FBI's special agent in charge in Oregon.

Huiras also said Weaver is a suspect in the case. It's the first time Weaver -- who has denied involvement in the girls' disappearances -- has been identified as a suspect by any law enforcement official.

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

Weaver weeks ago said he was a suspect in the FBI investigation, and investigators have been searching the grounds of his rented home for the past two days.

They discovered remains of one human body stashed in a shed behind the house, but did not immediately identify them.

Agents used shovels and a pickaxe on Sunday to dig several shallow holes about 50 feet away from the shed after specialists went over the property with a thermal-imaging device.

Other investigators worked inside a large white tent that had been erected over the concrete slab by authorities. A white SUV, its back door open, was backed up to the white tent. Later on a gurney was taken out of the tent. An object was placed inside and the SUV drove off.

Weaver agreed to the search because he wanted to "bring closure to the families," his attorney, Timothy Lyons, told The Oregonian. Lyons did not elaborate. Authorities have not said why Weaver needed to consent to the search since he already had been evicted from the house.

Lyons would not comment Sunday, but his assistant said they were spending the day, "getting organized."

Weaver has been jailed since Aug. 13 when he was charged with raping his 19-year-old son's girlfriend. His distraught son told emergency dispatchers that his father had killed Ashley and Miranda.

Weaver said Ashley was a friend of his daughter who frequently stayed overnight at their house. He said she had even lived at the home for several months last year while her own father was in jail on charges of abusing her.

Ashley's mother Laurie Pond recently told to the Portland Tribune that Weaver's account of the relationship is a lie and that her daughter never ran away from home.

Her family last saw her on Jan. 9 eating breakfast with her younger sister before school.

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