Did Miranda know too much?
Newly released documents shed light on possible motive in Ward Weaver case
Double-murder suspect Ward Weaver may have killed Miranda Gaddis because she warned another friend not to stay overnight at his house, according to documents released Thursday at the request of the Portland Tribune.
Weaver was 'very upset' with Miranda for telling the friend that she believed Weaver had molested Ashley Pond and might molest other young women, Weaver's ex-wife, Maria Shaw, told investigators.
The information sheds new light on a possible motive for Miranda's death. It's part of 171 pages of search warrant affidavits and other documents prepared by law enforcement officials during their investigation of the January and March disappearances of the girls, whose bodies were discovered in Weaver's back yard in August.
The documents also reveal that:
• Weaver's 13-year-old daughter, Mallori, told a school guidance counselor during the week of March 11 that she would have to miss a church service for Ashley and Miranda Ñ both of whom were still missing Ñ because she had to help her father dig a hole in their back yard for a hot tub. Ashley's body later was discovered in a barrel buried in the hole, which Weaver covered with a concrete slab in mid-March.
• Weaver's 20-year-old son, Francis, admitted to investigators that he fabricated his initial account of his father's confession to him. Francis Weaver told police that his father actually confessed five days earlier than he had said previously to killing both Ashley and Miranda but that he made up a different story for fear of getting into trouble for withholding information.
• Shaw told investigators that when she saw the hole in Weaver's back yard on March 21, she asked him whether he had buried Ashley there. He told her that Ashley was buried someplace else.
The documents show that investigators largely relied on information from members of Weaver's own family to build a case against him before the girls' bodies were found on his property.
For example, Shaw also told investigators that she overheard Miranda tell a friend that Weaver had molested Ashley and that 'she might end up being molested also,' according to the affidavit.
Shaw said Weaver was 'very upset' after his daughter repeated this information to him and 'expressed his anger over the comment.' Shaw said that the conversation between Miranda and her friend took place on Feb. 17, when she and the girls were attending a birthday party for Mallori at Weaver's house. Miranda and some of the other girls attending the party spent that night at Weaver's house.
The documents, which span the time before and after the discovery of the girls' bodies, were ordered unsealed Thursday by Clackamas County Circuit Judge Robert Herndon at the request of the Tribune and the Oregonian. Weaver has pleaded not guilty to six counts of aggravated murder; his trial is set for September.
The documents show that investigators found two small plastic bags of human hair in the top drawer of a green night stand belonging to Weaver. The night stand was among Weaver's household possessions moved to a Gresham storage unit. They also found a set of handcuffs, ropes and various cords.
Both girls' bodies were elaborately tied with both ropes and cords. The medical examiner concluded that the girls were tied after they had died, according to an affidavit prepared in opposition to Weaver's request to have bail set.
Investigators also found bungee cords and a box of news clippings and VHS tapes at the Gresham home of Weaver's sister, Teresa Quintero, who told them that she had obtained them from Weaver.
The documents suggest investigators believed that Weaver killed both girls at his house and kept both bodies someplace Ñ possibly in his chest-style, household freezer Ñ before relocating them onto the exterior of his property. But they contain little information about how he got control of them on the dates they disappeared or how they died, noting that the medical examiner was unable to determine the girls' cause of death by examining their bodies.
The documents also show that Weaver had allowed police to search his property on two occasions before the Aug. 23-25 search in which the bodies of both missing girls were found on his Oregon City property. That information contradicts statements by Oregon City Police Chief Gordon Huiras that police were not able to obtain legal access to the property before Aug. 23, when they obtained both a search warrant and Weaver's consent to the search.