Pollyanna (alicenwndrln) wrote,

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A very sad but expected ending. At least there's SOME sense of closure, & some justice to be had.

OREGON CITY, Ore. (Aug. 25) - FBI agents searching a man's property Sunday in the disappearance of two teenage neighbors identified a body found in his shed as one of the girls and found a second set of remains.

The second body was found in a barrel beneath a cement slab Ward Weaver, 39, 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 Saturday.

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 Lori 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. On March 8, Ashley's friend Miranda also disappeared from the same low-income neighborhood in the woods south of Portland.

Investigators interviewed residents, went on national television with appeals for information and passed out fliers with pictures of the missing girls. They received thousands of tips, but were unable to single out a suspect until Weaver's son called.

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

Miranda's mother, Michelle Duffey, said through her lawyer that she didn't share other people's frustration with the pace of the investigation.

``She understands that if things are done outside of the law, then potential evidence could be thrown out, and that would be a real shame,'' attorney Linda Beloof said.

Weaver, whose own father is on death row in California for killing a woman and burying her body in his yard, told reporters several months ago that the FBI considered him a suspect. The previous summer, Ashley had accused him of molesting her, but he denied the allegations and was never charged.

Weaver told The Associated Press in an interview last month that he treated Ashley as a daughter when she visited. He said he often asked Ashley to change from her halter tops and mini skirts into something more appropriate while at his house.

A large crowd - kept away from the scene by a chain-link fence erected by police but turned into a makeshift memorial, with candles, flowers and teddy bears - had gathered to watch investigators search the grounds of Weaver's rented home.

Friends of Miranda Gaddis gasped and sobbed when Mathews said the body found Saturday was hers.

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