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FBI Spokeswoman Updates Press on Search in Ward Weaver's Home

Aired August 24, 2002 - 14:05   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We want to go to Oregon City, where we're hearing from the FBI spokesperson.
BETH ANNE STEELE, FBI SPOKESWOMAN: ...as long as the search is progressing. Search started about 10:30 this morning. As you all can see through the fence, we do have several dogs out today. We have three dogs. It's the first step in the search.

The dogs are from Lane (ph) County Search & Rescue. We have Breeze, who is a Lab. We have Tess, who is a Golden Retriever, and from Northwest Search & Rescue, we have Tara, a German Shepherd.

Those dogs will search the property and the house. And we'll go through what they need to do this morning. The reason they have to go first, is so that any forensic searches that come subsequent to them do not interfere with their capabilities.

We will have about 40 people on the property today, searching. The main players in the search will be the FBI and the FBI's evidence response team, the Oregon City Police Department officers and detectives, and Oregon State Police and their crime lab personnel.

The search will cover all of the property and the house. The property is about 1200 square feet. That's all we have for you at this point. I can take a few questions. Obviously, there are many things I can't answer at this point. So, let's take questions. And I'll deal with some administrative details after that.

QUESTION: What are the legal authority?

STEELE: The legal authority, is far as I can go right now.

QUESTION: And do you not have a search warrant or you do have one?

STEELE: I can tell you that we have the legal authority to be on the property right now. Any other questions?

QUESTION: What about the concrete?

STEELE: We will...

QUESTION: Is Weaver aware of your search?

STEELE: We will be searching the entire property.

QUESTION: Is Ward Weaver a suspect, Beth Anne, right now, at this point?

STEELE: The FBI deals in the term "subject" not suspect. In the general population that's pretty interchangeable. But for us, to name somebody as a subject, they have to be charged. And in this case there has been no one who has been charged in the disappearance of Ashley or Miranda.

QUESTION: Why a search today? Is it because of something he said, maybe an accomplice that has come forward or something?

STEELE: All I can tell you is that the investigators have gotten to the point where they are able to do the search today.

QUESTION: How long do you expect the search to last?

QUESTION: (OFF MIKE)

STEELE: Yes. It is.

QUESTION: How long do you think it will last, the search, today and tomorrow or?

STEELE: Well, we're not sure at this point. But, certainly through today and probably into the evening tonight. We fully expect to be here until tomorrow, beyond that, I'm not sure.

QUESTION: Can you describe what the search is all involved? Is it like an archaeological dig? What's going on?

STEELE: I can't tell you what kind of techniques they will be using, no.

QUESTION: Is Ward Weaver a suspect?

QUESTION: (OFF MIKE) ... new information since Weaver's arrest on the alleged rape, that this information came up (OFF MIKE)?

STEELE: I can tell you that the investigation has proceeded to a point where the investigators had what they needed to get the legal authority to do the search.

QUESTION: Does this move Ward Weaver to the top of a possible suspect list?

STEELE: That's not something I can comment on.

QUESTION: What about the concrete (OFF MIKE)?

STEELE: Well, we'll be searching every inch of the property over the course of the next few days.

QUESTION: Why the tents in those specifics places?

STEELE: The tents are in place, as well as the fence, they're security measures. The investigation as well as the search itself is certainly very sensitive. And it is important to protect the investigation and aspects of the investigation, if this case goes to prosecution, as well as to protect any evidence that may be in the area.

QUESTION: Is Weaver on closed circuit TV (OFF MIKE)?

STEELE: I don't know.

QUESTION: (OFF MIKE) ...dismantle that concrete slab, when might that happen?

STEELE: All I can tell you is that we will be searching every inch of the property. As far as the time line, about what is happening when, it really -- they're playing it as much as possible to be flexible. They need to be very methodical and very thorough as they go through. That is the primary goal to make sure they don't disturb any evidence that may be there. To make sure that they find any evidence that is there. And so, I can't really give you a time line as to what will happen when.

QUESTION: Beth Anne, those are cadaver dogs, trained specifically to find human remains. Is that what their focus is?

STEELE: These three dogs have been on out on numerous occasions. Many of you have taped them at different locations. These three dogs are trained in various specialties. They are cross-trained in all kinds of specialties, whether, it is to find cadavers or to find evidence, live finds, what have you. So, they are cross-trained in every specialty.

QUESTION: What happens after the dogs do their search?

WHITFIELD: You've been listening to Beth Anne Steele. She's a spokeswoman for the FBI, talking about in Oregon City they are now using dogs in the search of the residence of a man who is self- professed suspect in the missing case of two 13-year-old teenage girls. They are going to continue their search there for the next couple of days.

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