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Autopsy Conducted on 2nd Ore. Body

August 26, 2002

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OREGON CITY, Ore. (AP) _ An autopsy was conducted Monday on a body found in a barrel buried under a concrete slab to determine if it is one of two teenage girls who vanished last winter.

Authorities say the barrel was discovered Sunday behind the rented home of Ward Weaver, who is suspected in the disappearance of 13-year-old Miranda Gaddis and Ashley Pond, who was 12 when she went missing. Miranda’s body was found Saturday in a shed behind Weaver’s home, officials said.

FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said she wasn’t sure when results of Monday’s autopsy would be available.

Weaver has been in jail since Aug. 13 on an unrelated rape charge, but hasn’t been charged in the girls’ disappearance. However, chief deputy district attorney Greg Horner said Monday that he would present the case to a grand jury in hopes of obtaining an indictment.

Weaver’s attorney, Tim Lyons, said: ``We are going to await the return of the indictment and see what the charges are and proceed from there.″

Meanwhile, FBI investigators returned to Weaver’s home with high-tech equipment, a backhoe, shovels and pickaxes to search for any evidence that might be hidden in the earth.

Asked whether more bodies could be buried on the property, Steele replied: ``There’s no reason to believe that, but they (investigators) do want to clear the property to make sure there’s nothing else.″

When investigators arrived over the weekend, they quickly pitched large white tents over the shed and the concrete slab _ which was poured by Weaver after the girls disappeared _ and began to work inside them.

A device called a ground penetration system was brought to the site on Monday. Steele said the high-tech system can look beneath the soil to determine whether it had been disturbed.

The girls’ relatives said Monday they were frustrated and devastated that the bodies were found so close to the apartment complex where they disappeared.

``Detectives and police stood out here all hours with posters and they were right here all along,″ said Terry Duffey, Miranda’s aunt. ``They came in and out of that driveway 100 times and they were right there, I mean right there and we couldn’t do anything.″

A security fence erected by police around the property has become a makeshift memorial _ festooned with flowers, teddy bears, and notes in which people have expressed their grief.

``We know she’s dead,″ said Wes Duffey, Miranda’s grandfather. ``We have an answer to that. The next question is, who done it?″

Weaver said weeks ago that he was a suspect in the FBI investigation, but denied any involvement. Weaver agreed to the search because he wanted to ``bring closure to the families,″ his attorney told The Oregonian. Lyons did not elaborate.

Weaver was charged earlier this month with raping his 19-year-old son’s girlfriend. His distraught son, Francis Weaver, then told emergency dispatchers that his father had killed Ashley and Miranda.

``I’m very glad that Ward will never be able to hurt anyone ever again, nor destroy any more lives,″ Francis Weaver told KATU-TV in Portland late Sunday.

Last summer Ashley had accused Weaver of molesting her, but he denied the allegations and was never charged. Family members and friends have said they had a close, and at times inappropriate, relationship.

Ashley’s family last saw her on Jan. 9 eating breakfast with her younger sister before school. On March 8, Miranda disappeared from the same low-income apartment complex south of Portland.

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