Ward Weaver: Like Father, Like Son
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Meanwhile, the Oregon investigators, midway through 2002, were busy conducting interviews and examining and analyzing more than 1,200 tips that had come in over the past several months. With the case literally going nowhere fast, the FBI offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to a suspect or suspects in the disappearances of Ashley and Miranda, and/or for the safe return of the girls. The Oregon City Police Department added $10,000 to the reward fund, and the Newell Creek Village Apartments put up another $5,000. However, there were no immediate takers.
Charles Matthews, FBI Special Agent in Charge, issued a plea to the public for their help, asking that citizens keep a watchful eye open for any suspicious people in the community. He also asked that anyone with information, no matter how insignificant they thought their details might be, to come forward.
"If someone found a pair of discarded jeans, I want to know about it," Matthews said. He indicated that everyone involved remained hopeful that the girls might still be alive, held captive somewhere. "We have no information that would lead us to conclude they are not alive."
The community became more involved as time moved forward, and many of those concerned contributed money to the reward fund to help it grow. Others set up individual Web sites for the girls where people could share their feelings and concerns or simply post tips that, it was hoped, could help the police find the girls. The girls' dance team at Gardiner Middle School held a fund raiser for the reward fund at one point, and America's Most Wanted ran two segments in an effort to produce additional tips.
However, despite all of the good intentions of everyone involved, nothing seemed to help. The case remained at a standstill — until August 15, 2002.