Ward Weaver Case: The Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis Murders

The Tragic Deaths of Two Innocent Girls

Ward Weaver

Mug Shot / Public Domain

On Jan. 9, 2002, in Oregon City, Oregon, 12-year-old Ashley Pond disappeared on her way to meet the school bus. It was just after 8 a.m. and Ashley was running late. The bus stop was just 10 minutes from the Newell Creek Village Apartments where Ashley lived with her mother, Lori Pond—but Ashley Pond never got on the bus and never made it to Gardiner Middle School.

An Unexplained Disappearance

Despite the efforts of the local authorities and the FBI, no clues surfaced as to the whereabouts of the missing girl. Ashley was popular at school and enjoyed being on the swim and dance teams. Neither her mother, friends, or the investigators believed she had run away.

On March 8, 2002, two months after Ashley disappeared, Miranda Gaddis, 13, also vanished around 8 a.m. while on her way to the bus stop at the top of the hill. Miranda and Ashley were good friends. They lived in the same apartment complex. Miranda's mother Michelle Duffey had left for work about 30 minutes before Miranda was to catch the bus. When Duffey discovered that Miranda had not been at school, she immediately contacted the police but once again, investigators came up empty.

Without any leads to follow, investigators began looking into the possibility that the person who had abducted the girls might be someone they knew. It seemed that whoever the perpetrator was, he or she seemed to be targeting the same type of girl. Ashley and Miranda were close in age, involved in similar activities, looked remarkably similar to each other—and most importantly, both girls disappeared on their way to the bus stop.

A Grisly Discovery

On August 13, 2002, Ward Weaver's son contacted 911 to report that his father had attempted to rape his 19-year-old girlfriend. He also told the dispatcher that his father confessed to murdering Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis. Both of the girls were friends with Weaver's 12-year-old daughter and had visited her at Weaver's home.

On August 24, FBI agents searched Weaver's home and found the remains of Miranda Gaddis inside a box in the storage shed. The following day, they found the remains of Ashley Pond buried under a slab of concrete that Weaver had recently put down for a hot tub—or so he claimed.

Too Many Suspects, Not Enough Evidence

Shortly after Ashley and Miranda disappeared, Ward Weaver III became a prime suspect in the investigation, but it took the FBI eight months to get the search warrant that eventually turned up their bodies on Weaver's property.

The problem for investigators was that they were awash in possible suspects—some 28 suspects that lived in the same apartment complex could not be ruled out. For months, authorities had no real evidence that a crime had been committed. It wasn't until Weaver attacked his son's girlfriend that the FBI was able to obtain a warrant to search his property.

Ward Weaver, A Study in Evil

Ward Weaver was a brutal man with a long history of violence and assaults against women. He was also the man that Ashley Pond reported for attempted rape—but the authorities never investigated her complaint.

On October 2, 2002, Weaver was indicted and charged with six counts of aggravated murder, two counts of abuse of a corpse in the second degree, one count of sexual abuse in the first degree and one count of attempted rape in the second degree, one count of attempted aggravated murder, one count of attempted rape in the first degree and one count of sexual abuse in the first degree, one count of sexual abuse in the second degree and two counts of sexual abuse in the third degree.

To avoid the death penalty, Weaver pled guilty to murdering his daughter's friends. He received two life sentences without the possibility of parole for the deaths of Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis.

A Family Legacy of Evil

On February 14, 2014, Weaver's stepson Francis was arrested and charged with the murder of a drug dealer in Canby, Oregon. He was found guilty and given a life sentence. This made Frances the third generation of Weavers to be convicted as murderers. 

Ward Pete Weaver, Jr., Weaver's father, was sent to California's death row for the murder of two people. Like his son, he buried one of his victims under a slab of concrete.