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Evidence Said to Link Suspect to Dead Girl

Oregon man's prints were on tape used to conceal 13-year-old's body, affidavit says.

November 28, 2002|Scott Martelle | Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE — Fingerprints belonging to the suspected killer of two Oregon schoolgirls were found on tape sealing one of the victims' bodies inside cardboard boxes and plastic sheeting that had been fitted together like nesting dolls, according to a newly filed affidavit.

The other body was found similarly wrapped in black plastic, but inside a barrel buried beneath a concrete slab behind the Oregon City, Ore., home of Ward Weaver. The first body was in a shed a few feet away.

Weaver, 39, was denied bail this week by Clackamas County Circuit Judge Robert Herndon because the "presumption is strong" that Weaver is guilty. Weaver's attorney, William T. Lyons, declined to comment.

Weaver is scheduled to go to trial in September. The affidavit, filed by prosecutors before the bail hearing, included fresh details that investigators said they uncovered through interviews with Weaver's sons and during a search of his home.

Among the revelations: At least one of the victims, 12-year-old Ashley Pond, had consumed alcohol.

Investigators considered Weaver, a shipping-and-receiving clerk, a suspect shortly after Pond disappeared Jan. 9. She had left her family's apartment that morning, headed for a school bus stop about 50 yards from Weaver's home. But the bus driver told investigators that he had not seen the girl that day, and school officials reported that she never arrived there.

According to the affidavit, Weaver told investigators nine days later that he and his 13-year-old daughter were at home that morning, and that he did not get to work until 9:30 a.m. because of problems with a burglar alarm system. The daughter, however, told police she wasn't at home that morning.

In March, Miranda Gaddis, 13, disappeared in similar fashion, leaving the Newell Creek Apartments complex and failing to board the local school bus.

The girls' bodies were found in August after Weaver was arrested in connection with the alleged rape of a woman who is the mother of his 2-year-old grandson. Weaver's son and the father of the toddler, Francis Paul Weaver, then called police to say his father had admitted to him that he had killed the two girls.

Investigators found Miranda's body inside the layered boxes. The affidavit said she was naked except for socks.

Ashley's body was found clothed inside a barrel beneath the slab Weaver said he had poured as the foundation for a hot tub.

Both bodies were bound with electrical and phone cords, which a medical examiner determined had been done after the girls were dead. The affidavit said the exact cause of the girls' deaths had not been determined.

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