- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 27, 2002

OREGON CITY, Ore. (AP) A body found in a barrel buried under a concrete slab has been identified as the second of two Oregon girls who vanished last winter.

Oregon City Police Chief Gordon Huiras said last night 12-year-old Ashley Pond had been identified through dental records. Her remains were found Sunday, one day after authorities found the body of 13-year-old Miranda Gaddis in a shed.

Both sets of remains were found behind the rental home of a man who authorities say is a suspect in the girls' disappearance.

The suspect, Ward Weaver, had been jailed since Aug. 13 on an unrelated rape charge and hasn't been charged in the girls' deaths.

However, Chief Deputy District Attorney Greg Horner said yesterday that he would present the case to a grand jury in hopes of obtaining an indictment.

Mr. Weaver's attorney, Tim Lyons, said his client would "await the return of the indictment and see what the charges are and proceed from there."

The girls went missing last winter, prompting a nationwide search that ended over the weekend just a few hundred yards from the apartment complex where they had lived.

Both girls were last seen leaving for school not far from the home of the 39-year-old toolmaker whose daughter was in the same dance class as the two girls and who often had Ashley over as a house guest.

FBI investigators returned to Mr. Weaver's property yesterday with high-tech equipment, a backhoe, shovels and pickaxes to search for any evidence that might be hidden in the earth.

FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said investigators didn't believe there were any more bodies on the property, but said they "want to clear the property to make sure there's nothing else."

The girls' relatives said yesterday they were frustrated and devastated that the bodies were found so close to the apartment complex where the girls disappeared.

"Detectives and police stood out here all hours with posters and they were right here all along," said Terri Duffey, Miranda's aunt. "They came in and out of that driveway 100 times and they were right there I mean right there and we couldn't do anything."

A security fence erected by police around the property has become a makeshift memorial festooned with flowers, teddy bears and notes in which people have expressed their grief.

"We are never going to forget what happened. This is going to hurt my daughter for the rest of her life," Miranda's grandfather, Wes Duffey, said of Miranda's mother, Michelle Duffey.

Mr. Weaver said weeks ago that he was a suspect in the FBI investigation but denied any involvement. Mr. Weaver agreed to the search because he wanted to "bring closure to the families," his attorney, Timothy Lyons, told the Oregonian.

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

"I'm very glad that Ward will never be able to hurt anyone ever again, nor destroy any more lives," the son told Portland's KATU-TV on Sunday evening.

Last summer Ashley had accused Mr. Weaver of molesting her, but he denied the accusations and was never charged. Family members and friends have said they had a close, and at times inappropriate, relationship.

Ashley's family last saw her on Jan. 9 eating breakfast with her younger sister before school. On March 8, Miranda disappeared from the same apartment complex.

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