Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ward Weaver: Like Father, Like Son

An Investigation Begins

After taking the initial report of Ashley's sudden and unexplained disappearance, Oregon City detectives, wasting no time, began interviewing several of Ashley's classmates. What they discovered was very disturbing — Ashley had not taken the bus to school that day. When the bus had pulled up at the scheduled stop at 8:19 a.m., they were told, Ashley wasn't there with the other kids that got on.

Oregon City Police Patch
Oregon City Police Patch

In the hours and days that followed, investigators, some with bloodhounds, also fanned out and searched the surrounding areas while others questioned many of the complex's residents as they hunted leads that might point them toward a suspect. Search crews that consisted of mostly volunteers also became involved and carefully examined the neighboring properties for any sign of the girl — looking for things like school books, a purse, clothing items, anything at all. The detectives also examined lists of known sex-offenders in the area, and carefully scrutinized Ashley's Internet activit,y including her contacts and the sites she visited. However, they came up empty-handed at every turn.

Even though Ashley's mother didn't believe that her daughter had run away from home, the Oregon City Police Department continued to manage their investigation without dismissing that possibility. There had been a number of domestic problems that had occurred within Ashley's home life that caused investigators to continue that line of reasoning; there had also been reports that Ashley had been seen in the area after her disappearance. However, the investigators soon determined that the reported sightings of Ashley had been false.

Obviously not making any headway into determining what had happened to Ashley, the Oregon City detectives, only a few days into the investigation, decided that they needed outside help with the case and, on January 18, 2002, nine days after Ashley disappeared, they asked the FBI for assistance. Convinced by then that Ashley had been abducted and possibly killed, according to the Tribune, they took advantage of a federal law that authorizes the FBI to get involved in cases of missing children that wouldn't necessarily otherwise fall under their jurisdiction.


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