Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ward Weaver: Like Father, Like Son

The FBI Enters the Case

FBI Logo
FBI Logo

As the FBI became involved, the federal agents took on a more macroscopic approach toward Ashley's disappearance than had the Oregon City investigators. From the outset, it looked like it was going to be a tough case to crack. They did not have a crime scene to examine, and none of the efforts of the combined law enforcement agencies had turned up any witnesses. Thinking they knew straightaway how the case should be handled, the FBI rapidly put together a task force that was comprised of investigators from the Oregon State Police, the Clackamas County sheriff's department, the Oregon City Police Department and the neighboring West Linn Police Department. Charles Matthews, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon, headed the task force.

Charles Matthews, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon
Charles Matthews, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon

Intent on moving their investigation beyond the immediate apartment community and the adjacent neighboring areas, the task force interviewed Ashley's friends and relatives and questioned her teachers and the administrators at her school. Utilizing Boy Scouts, thousands of fliers with Ashley's photograph and details of her disappearance were handed out door-to-door throughout the Oregon City area. Days later, despite the fact that tips were being called in as a result of the increased public awareness about Ashley's disappearance, the task force only hit more dead-ends as the leads that trickled in proved fruitless.

At one point, a law enforcement dog handler, along with a Clackamas County sheriff's deputy, searched the neighborhood, including the yard of a ranch-style house across the street from the apartment complex. Although the resident, Ward Weaver, refused their request to look inside his house, he did give them permission to look around outside in his yard. As the case moved into February, the detectives still didn't have a clue as to what had happened to Ashley during the ten minutes between the time she left her apartment to when she should have arrived at her bus stop.


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