Son of notorious child killer charged in homicide

Feb 20, 2014, 5:32 AM

CANBY, Ore. (AP) – His grandfather sits on California’s death row, and his father avoided a death sentence by pleading guilty to killing two Oregon girls.

Now Francis Weaver, 31, is one of three men charged with murder in what Canby, Ore., police describe as a drug deal gone bad.

Police allege Weaver and co-conspirators sought to steal drugs last weekend from a Grants Pass man whose car contained 15 pounds of marijuana. The victim, 43-year-old Edward Spangler, was shot in the face and shoulder.

Weaver and the other men, 27-year-old Michael A. Orren and 32-year-old Shannon Bettencourt, were arraigned Tuesday in an Oregon City court. A court clerk said they did not enter pleas and have yet to be assigned attorneys. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for next week.

Weaver’s father, Ward Weaver III, was convicted of aggravated murder in 2004, two years after the bodies of Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis were found in his backyard. Before the discovery, the search for the 12-year-old Pond and 13-year-old Gaddis riveted Oregon for months and put the missing girls on the cover of People magazine.

It was Francis Weaver, then 19, who finally ended the mystery by calling emergency dispatchers to report that his girlfriend accused Ward Weaver of raping her, and his father had privately admitted to killing the girls.

In the early 1980s, Francis Weaver’s grandfather, Ward Weaver Jr., was convicted of killing a man whose car had broken down and of kidnapping, raping and murdering the man’s girlfriend, 23-year-old Barbara Levoy. Her body was found buried beneath a deck at his home in Oroville, Calif.

Francis Weaver’s mother, Maria Shaw, said Wednesday her son is not the biological son of Ward Weaver III. Asked who is the father, she said it was either a now-deceased Marine named Richard or a man who was in the Navy named Christopher.

“I don’t know which one of those two is the real dad,” she said. “At the time, I was raped by Ward and I wanted revenge. I didn’t want to be with Ward. I just wanted to get away from him.”

Shaw, who eventually divorced Weaver in the 1990s, said her son had nothing to do with Spangler’s death.

“He’s not guilty,” she said. “They want (to arrest) him so bad because they think he’s Ward Weaver’s son.”

The Oregonian reported that exhaustive DNA investigations during case in which Ward Weaver III was convicted brought to light Francis Weaver is not his biological son, though both men had previously believed he was. Regardless, Francis Weaver was raised by Ward Weaver and grew up calling him “Dad.”

The investigation began shortly before 5 a.m. Sunday when Canby police officers were called to a small park near the apartment where Shaw lives and Francis Weaver sometimes stays. Officers found Spangler’s body next to a car that crashed into a tree.

Police documents obtained from the Clackamas County Jail said the men had been tracking Spangler for three hours in an attempt to steal the marijuana, with Weaver exchanging text messages with Orren. Minutes before the homicide, Orren was directed to a back parking lot at the apartment building, where he allegedly met Spangler.

A probable-cause statement written by Detective Brett Ethington said Orren was identified as the shooter and the gun believed to be used in the killing has been recovered.

Additional documents from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office show Weaver was arrested on an assault charge Jan. 25 and heroin was found in his pocket.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Son of notorious child killer charged in homicide