Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ward Weaver: Like Father, Like Son

The Task Force Splits into Two Teams

Miranda Gaddis
Miranda Gaddis

Within days of Miranda's disappearance, the task divided into two groups — one group to investigate Miranda's disappearance, and the other Ashley's. The two teams came together at least once daily to share information; sometimes, depending upon the number and quality of the leads that were coming in, two or more briefings would be held for the information exchanges.

On March 15, again aided by Boy Scouts from one of the local troops, investigators performed a second survey of the area, this time handing out flyers depicting photographs and descriptions of both girls. Investigators also recognized the fact that they had overlooked quite a large number of potential suspects during the first canvass. They found that many of the apartment complex's tenants had not divulged the fact that they'd had visitors staying with them during the time frames in which Ashley had disappeared. Some of the apartment dwellers had six or more people living with them, either temporarily or on a more or less permanent basis. Some of them, the cops learned, were fugitives. By the time they had finished, they realized that there had been upwards of 150 such people living in the complex, unknown to the rental office and to the world. The cops had no choice but to begin the tedious task of identifying all of the non-tenants, and then interviewing each, to either clear them as a potential suspect through checking out their alibis, or to gather sufficient information or evidence to warrant taking further action.

The task force was also responsible for locating and interviewing all of the registered sex offenders who resided in the area — their numbers reached approximately 900, spread out across the Oregon City area. The process took a number of weeks to complete, and the cops discovered that some of the sex offenders had been convicted of committing offenses against children. After all of the time they spent attempting to confirm alibis and administering polygraph examinations, all they really had to do was to look across the street. Ward Weaver's name had surfaced several times during the early weeks of the investigation, but there was nothing solid enough to warrant bringing him in, even though the task force considered him a potential suspect all along. Sure, he could have done it, they admitted. But where was the evidence? There were no witnesses — at least none that had come forward — and there was no known crime scene to investigate.


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