Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ward Weaver: Like Father, Like Son

Slipping Through the Cracks

Ashley Pond
Ashley Pond

At the investigation's outset, while those involved worked feverishly searching for answers, it was difficult to see how Ashley's abuse and the clues that pointed to Weaver as a suspect in her disappearance slipped past the combined efforts of the multi-jurisdictional task force. However, in retrospect, it became more apparent that vital clues reported by concerned individuals, if given attention earlier, might have prevented the case from slipping through the cracks of the system that was set up to help protect children from predatory monsters that live in the world. Those same clues, had they been taken more seriously sooner, might have worked to save another child's

life. According to reports that initially appeared in the Portland Tribune and later made their way to national television news programs on CNN, MSNBC, and countless other networks, witnesses who suspected that something was very much amiss with regard to the association between Ward Weaver III and Ashley Pond were virtually ignored by investigators until much later. Some of the witnesses were not given the attention many people felt was deserved until the investigation was into its seventh month!

A relative of Ashley's mother, for example, reported that Ashley had stayed at her house about a week before she disappeared and had shared some of her secrets with the relative's older daughter. One of those secrets was that Weaver had prevented Ashley from exiting his house when she had wanted to go home. Ashley's friend, Miranda Gaddis, had witnessed such an episode, Ashley had confided. Miranda purportedly had seen Weaver push himself up against Ashley, using the weight and size of his body, to prevent Ashley from leaving. The relative claimed that she had never been contacted by investigators after she had called in the report.

A former boyfriend of Ashley's mother, who had knowledge of Ashley's relationship with Weaver and his family, had called the police to voice his concern that Ashley's relationship with Weaver had seemed improper to him. He cited an incident in which he was visiting Ashley's mother when Weaver suddenly showed up. He said that at one point Ashley sat on Weaver's lap and began kissing him on his face.

"She was being very sexually aggressive, and Ward looked uncomfortable, like he had something to hide," the witness told a Tribune reporter. "I thought the behavior was totally inappropriate."

The witness claimed that he "got a sick feeling about Weaver" after Ashley disappeared, and stated that he had reported his concerns to the Oregon City Police Department and to the FBI following Ashley's disappearance. No one, he said, from either agency ever contacted him.

Another person that was close to both the Weaver and Pond families claimed that Ashley had slept in the same bed with Weaver at his house, and that it had caused problems between Weaver and his live-in girlfriend of the past few years. Again, according to the witness reports, investigators had made little attempt to investigate the alleged inappropriate behavior that some people believed was going on at the Weaver house.


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