Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ward Weaver: Like Father, Like Son


Ward Weaver III
Ward Weaver III

By late summer 2004, psychiatrists at the Oregon State Hospital determined that Ward Weaver III was mentally competent to be returned to Clackamas County to stand trial for the murders with which he was charged. However, just prior to the beginning of the trial and fearing the death penalty if convicted, Weaver and his attorneys worked out a deal, supported by the victims' families, in which he would plead guilty if the state agreed not to pursue the death penalty against him. On Wednesday, September 22, 2002, Weaver pleaded guilty to seven out of 17 charges that included aggravated murder, sex abuse and abuse of a corpse. He entered no contest pleas to the remaining 10 charges, including a rape that he committed in July 2002. Judge Herndon sentenced him to two consecutive life prison terms with no possibility of parole.

Oregon State Hospital
Oregon State Hospital

"You will leave here with your life today, such as it may be," Herndon told Weaver. "I see nothing but evil. I believe everyone probably shares the hope that there is a special place in hell for people like you."

The guilty plea left such unanswered questions as when, where and how he had killed Ashley and Miranda, details that he will likely take to his grave.

Snake River Correctional Institution in Eastern Oregon
Snake River Correctional Institution in Eastern Oregon

Without ever providing a detailed confession of his crimes, Weaver was sent to the Snake River Correctional Institution in eastern Oregon where he was housed, along with 44 other inmates, in the administrative segregation unit. The segregation unit is for inmates that prison officials believe need to be separated from the general population for their own protection.

On Sunday, March 4, 2007, Marvin Lee Taylor, 44, an inmate barber, and Weaver were along in the segregation unit's day room. Taylor was giving Weaver a haircut when he allegedly stabbed the child killer with a homemade shank. Weaver sustained neck and shoulder wounds from the attack, and was treated at the prison infirmary. If a guard hadn't stopped the attack, Taylor might have killed Weaver. As it turned out, Weaver recovered from his injuries.

"We're not sure of the motive," said Malheur County District Attorney Dan Norris. "But it does demonstrate the difficulty the Department of Corrections has with dealing with infamous inmates such as Mr. Weaver."

Because inmate barbers are not allowed to cut hair with scissors or other sharp instruments, but only use electric razors, prison officials were uncertain how Taylor had managed to keep the shank concealed. The incident had marked the first time that anyone had tried to harm Weaver since his arrival at his new home.

Next time he might not be so lucky.


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