Ward Weaver: Like Father, Like Son
Friction at the Weaver's
Yet another witness close to the Pond family told the Tribune that she had called child services representatives on two occasions to report the "disturbing" relationship that Ashley apparently had with Weaver. The witness said that she had been told by a family member that Weaver had been acting as a father figure to Ashley, and that Weaver had taken Ashley "under his wing...because she was missing her dad." It was all so appalling that it seemed beyond belief to many people close to the case.
On one occasion, the witness said, she had been visiting at Ashley's apartment in July 2001 when Weaver's girlfriend had called Ashley's mother. Weaver's girlfriend had been very upset because Ashley was always there, living at Weaver's house, and that Weaver was paying more attention to Ashley than he was paying to his own family.
"Ashley was sleeping in bed with him, while (the girlfriend) was sleeping elsewhere in the house," the witness told the newspaper reporter. "There was so much friction that it was basically tearing the family apart." When the girlfriend insisted that Ashley had to go, Weaver became defiant. "He would get physical with (the girlfriend). They were basically fighting over Ashley." The witness said that she had later asked Ashley about the details of the conversation that she'd had with Weaver's girlfriend, and that Ashley had confirmed much of it.
"She kind of defended him, as a matter of fact," the witness said. "She seemed to like the attention. She's always been a very needy child — it drives you nuts sometimes." She said that she had explained to Ashley that sleeping in the same bed as Weaver was very inappropriate.
The witness said that she had called Oregon's child protective services and had reported what she knew to a caseworker, but that the agency had not followed up with her. About a month later, in August 2001, right after Ashley had made accusations that Weaver had raped her, the witness again called the child protective services agency and was told that "there was basically nothing they could do."
When news of the telephone calls had been made public, a spokesperson for the Department of Human Services, which oversees the child protective services division, defended their actions by saying that reports of abuse allegations from third parties were routinely turned over to the law enforcement agency in the child's jurisdiction.
By late autumn and early winter, after Ashley had fallen out of favor at the Weaver residence, people began to notice a marked improvement in her behavior and demeanor. She had become calmer, her grades had improved, and she had fewer blow-ups with her mother. Months later, it even appeared that she had become friendly with Weaver and his family again, and she eventually resumed spending at least some of her time at their house. But sometime in late December 2001, around Christmas, Weaver's live-in girlfriend apparently had had enough of Weaver's displays of affection toward 12-year-old Ashley Pond and moved out of the house. Less than two weeks later, Ashley vanished.