Oregon Man To be Indicted
In Murder Of Two Schoolgirls

By Teresa Carson

OREGON CITY, Ore. (Reuters) - An ex-convict with a history of violence toward women faces indictment for the murders of two teen-age girls whose bodies were found in the backyard of his home, officials said.
One of the bodies was identified Sunday as that of 13-year-old Miranda Gaddis, who vanished last March, and police said Monday that the second set of remains had been identified as those of 12-year-old Ashley Pond, her friend who disappeared last January.
Both girls were last seen leaving for school not far from the home of Ward Weaver, a 39-year-old toolmaker whose daughter was in the same dance class as the two girls and who often had Pond over as a house guest.
Pond and Gaddis lived in the same apartment complex and disappeared during a year of high-profile child abductions that dominated headlines and set parents across the country on edge.
In a brief statement Monday afternoon, the Clackamas County District Attorney's office said it would seek a grand jury indictment against Weaver, but added it was "premature" to say if it would seek the death penalty. The grand jury was expected to be put in place by late Monday.
Weaver, previously imprisoned for a brutal act of violence, has been in jail since Aug. 13 on charges of raping his son's 19-year-old girlfriend.
The girlfriend ran naked from Weaver's house that night and charged that he raped her and then tried to smother her to death. Later, in a call to police, Weaver's son said his father had confessed to killing Gaddis and Pond.
Weaver's court-appointed attorney, William Lyons, said Weaver gave permission to dig up his property to speed investigators' search for clues. "He wanted to provide some closure for the families," Lyons said by telephone, though he declined to say if Weaver knew where the bodies were.
FBI agents have been using heavy equipment to tear up Weaver's yard.
The body of Gaddis was found in a shed behind Weaver's home in Oregon City, a rural area 20 miles south of Portland. The second body was found inside a barrel buried under a concrete.
Oregon City police chief Gordon Huiras told reporters Monday, "The state medical examiner's office has advised that these remains have been identified as those of Ashley Pond."
Ward Weaver's father, former truck driver Ward Francis Weaver Jr., is on death row in a California prison for the 1981 murders of an 18-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman, whose body was found buried beneath a concrete deck at the family home in Oroville, California.
Ward Weaver previously served three years in prison for striking his son's baby sitter with a cement chunk. Both of his ex-wives accused him of violence. In addition, Pond accused him of molesting her.
"This is going to hurt us for the rest of our lives," Gaddis' grandfather, Wes Duffey, told reporters near the property. "It's just a confusing and painful time."
"It was like all your worst fears coming true," said Gaddis' aunt Terri Duffey, who said she had not suspected Weaver.
"I guess I just thought it was too obvious," Duffey said. "I just couldn't imagine him being that stupid."
Many residents of this working-class community blamed police for waiting so long to search the property, noting that Weaver has a long history of violence against women. He had announced he was a suspect in the case in July, but proclaimed his innocence.
At a massive impromptu memorial wall of flowers, balloons and teddy bears constructed at the scene, some of the cards, many placed by sobbing children, struck a critical tone. "It breaks my heart that all they had to do was look. I hope you find peace now," read one note.
FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said investigators had to compile enough evidence to obtain a search warrant, which arrived just as Weaver signed off on the search last Friday night.


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