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Oregon girl's body found behind neighbor's home

Second set of remains found

Miranda Gaddis
Miranda Gaddis  


OREGON CITY, Oregon (CNN) -- Law enforcement officials Sunday confirmed that a set of human remains found behind the home of Ward Weaver were that of 13-year-old Miranda Gaddis, one of two girls who disappeared early this year.

A second set of remains was recovered Sunday, Oregon City Police Chief Gordon Huiras announced. The remains were found in a barrel, underneath a concrete slab. Authorities said the medical examiner will not be able to determine whether the second set of remains were that of the second missing girl -- 13-year-old Ashley Pond -- until Monday.

The announcement brought a swell of emotion to a crowd gathered near the search site. Many in the crowd were friends or schoolmates of Miranda and Ashley. A fence erected to keep the onlookers away from the search site has been turned into a makeshift memorial in honor of the missing girls.

Hours later, Miranda's mother, Michelle Duffey, and other friends and family members visited the makeshift memorial after police moved onlookers across the street to allow them privacy.

Miranda was the second of the two girls to disappear. She was last seen getting ready for school on March 8.

Ashley was last seen walking to school on January 9.

Miranda's remains were found Saturday in a shed behind Weaver's home, which is near the girls' apartment complex. Authorities said the cause of death had not yet been determined.

Weaver was arrested earlier this month on unrelated charges of raping the 19-year-old girlfriend of his son. He remains in the Clackamas County Jail on $1 million bond.

He denied any involvement in the disappearances of the girls, but had said that he is considered the prime suspect.

Asked about reports that Weaver had made a confession, FBI spokeswoman Beth Ann Steele said, "Weaver has not made any such statements to investigators."

For the first time, Huiras said police consider Weaver a suspect in the case.

"I would say, without saying, that Mr. Weaver is a suspect in this case based on our findings here on his property," he said. "I'm confident that we have a case [against him]."

No charges have yet been filed.

Investigators Sunday broke up the concrete slab on the property, which had raised suspicions because Weaver apparently poured it shortly after Gaddis disappeared.

"There were several barrels there," said Huiras. "The others contained just dirt and gravel, but the third barrel that was recovered did have one set of human remains."

Weaver's ex-wife Kristi Sloan said she had notified the FBI months before that it should investigate the slab.

"He had a hole dug in his back yard and cemented it to put in a hot tub," she said. "They dug and cemented it in the middle of the winter and the middle of the night. We had a hard time believing why he would do that."

Miranda's family reads the tributes to the girls left at the site.
Miranda's family reads the tributes to the girls left at the site.  

Crime scene investigators planned to continue work at Weaver's home, the officials said, using special equipment to find faults in the earth that would indicate the ground had recently been disturbed. Charles Mathews, special agent in charge of the Portland field office, said he does not expect to find any more human remains.

"We want to make sure that when law enforcement finally leaves this residence, that every piece of evidence that has to do with these crimes is recovered and brought to bear on whoever is responsible for these acts," Mathews said.

Authorities deflected criticism that they should have searched Weaver's property sooner.

"We got onto this property just as soon as we legally could," Huiras said. "The day we went on this property was the first day we could legally get on this property. There's a constitution that has certain rights that everybody is guaranteed, and part of our job is to make sure those rights are guaranteed to people."

In an interview last month with Portland affiliate KPTV, Weaver said he was not surprised investigators wanted to talk to him.

"I mean, I had a lot of contact with both girls. I expect to be looked at and questioned and background checks and that kind of thing," he said. "I've got no problem with that."



 
 
 
 






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