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Representative of Pond, Gaddis Families Briefs Press

Aired August 25, 2002 - 15:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon, I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center. BUSINESS UNUSUAL is straight ahead, but first checking our news alert at the top of the hour now.
In Oregon an autopsy is underway on some human remains found on Ward Weaver's property. He is the self-described prime suspect in the disappearance of two teenage girls. Investigators have also removed a concrete slab on Weaver's property and are searching underneath it. Our James Hattori is in Oregon City following the latest out there. Hi there James.

JAMES HATTORI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka. We are awaiting a second press conference by FBI. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they have something to announce (UNINTELLIGIBLE) today in the wake of yesterday's discovery of human remains in the backyard of Ward Weaver's home in a shed. A lot of speculation of whether or not they belong to either of the two missing girls, Ashley Pond or Miranda Gaddis, missing since January and March, kidnapped in an apartment complex just next door to where Mr. Ward Weaver lives.

So we are awaiting word. We know that an autopsy is underway hoping to identify those remains, a lot of questions still. About 30 investigators and forensics experts are on the scene as we speak, and when they have an announcement, which we expect shortly, we'll bring that to you. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And, James, in addition to the 40 or so investigators that are already on the scene involving Oregon City Police as well as the FBI, et cetera, I understand from the FBI spokeswoman that they're also going to be bringing in, if this person is not already en route, someone who is specialized in using imaging machinery in order to better search the grounds there.

HATTORI: That's correct. They called it some special high-tech equipment by which they could detect if anything might be buried underneath the ground and we have yet to see that. Of course, a lot of the work is behind the scenes. Right now, I believe we are going to go to a press conference that is going to start shortly and we'll await the moment here as she gets in place.

WHITFIELD: All right and, James, while we're waiting for them to also get organized, if we could talk at all about where the family members, the Pond family and Gaddis family members are.

HATTORI: They've remained to themselves. FBI officials have told them to keep a low profile. Let's now join this press conference live.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good afternoon. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I represent Ashley Pond's mother and Miranda Gaddis' mother, and I've been asked to come down here and speak to the press on behalf of Miranda Gaddis' family. First they would like everyone to know that if anyone wants to make a donation to help the families out at this time while they're going through this troubling time, they can do so at Miranda Gaddis Family Support Fund, Bank of America, Ashley Pond Family Support Fund, Bank of America.

Miranda Gaddis' 15-year-old sister Marissa (ph) is watching the coverage with family members. She wants people to keep praying for her and her family to not give up support. She would like to thank everybody for all their prayers and all their support. Jason is Miranda Gaddis' ten-year-old brother. He also is with family and would like to thank everyone for their support.

Mariah (ph) is Miranda Gaddis' 12-year-old sister and she is also watching this coverage with her family, and her message is she would like the media to get all of their information correct before reporting it. She also wants me to let you know that she would like to be here to see the people over here across the street, to read the messages, to see some of her friends that have been coming down here but her mother won't let her for obvious reasons.

She also wants me to tell you at this press conference that people need to stop telling the Portland Tribune or other news what their speculations are because this is very disturbing and hurtful to the family. And I'm sorry I'm just going through my notes so that I can get everything correct on behalf of these families. No statements - I'm sorry, no questions yet.

Michele Duffy wants to let people know that she does not see anything at all that the FBI or the police could have done differently or could have done to prevent Miranda's disappearance. She has complete faith in the FBI and the police. She wants you to know that they could not have done anything faster because of the way the laws are, and if people don't like the laws, then the people need to change the laws.

She understands that if things are done outside of the book or outside of the laws, then potential evidence could be thrown out and that would be a real shame. She would like to thank Oregon City Police Department, Detective Fryette (ph), Detective Garcia, the FBI, and Chief Curez (ph) for all their hard work.

Michele Duffy would like to thank Beth Anne Steele for what she said at her press conference just a little while ago in correcting some of the misinformation that was out there. And Michele Duffy and her family want to thank everyone for all their support, their prayers, and she knows that wherever Ashley and Miranda are that they appreciate it also. I'll take one or two questions and then I have to go.

QUESTION: Linda, they have obviously heard these reports as they mentioned before in The Oregonian saying that the bodies have been identified by sources close to the investigation. Have they heard anything like that? Is that something they know of?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The parents have not been told that and the parents are being kept up to date on what is happening out here.

QUESTION: (UNIDENTIFIED) from the apartment complex. Can you tell us the context of his conversation with the Gaddis family was?


QUESTION: When did they know about the set of remains? When were they told?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cannot answer that question.

QUESTION: Can you tell us whether or not they (UNINTELLIGIBLE) any more clothing? Was it Miranda's?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can not answer that question. Any other questions?

QUESTION: Both families have remained very hopeful this entire duration that the girls would be brought back safely and fine. Can you tell us is that hope has waned at all? Clearly this is not good news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They still are asking for our prayers and they're still asking for our hope and that's all I can say at this time. Thank you very much.

WHITFIELD: All right, you've been listening to one of the family representatives of the Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis family. Our James Hattori is there and he is following the developments out there and listening to the comments from that family member. James, as described by the family member spokesperson there, this has been incredibly difficult understandably on the sides of both families and it seems that they're trying really hard to appeal to the public for some understanding in all of these flying facts.

HATTORI: Well, and of course we are talking about two different families that are involved and lots of other members of the families so you're getting a lot of conflicting sentiments. For example, some people have expressed some frustration unfortunately about the pace of the investigation; although, here you hear from this representative saying that they believe that everything was done within the legal means possible to try and solve this disappearance, these kidnappings, in fact even going to the point of saying that she didn't believe, the family member didn't believe that anything different could have been done to save the young girl in this case.

So obviously it's a very difficult time and until there's more information forthcoming in terms of the autopsy of the remains that were discovered yesterday, hopefully that word will come today and provide some closure, some relief for perhaps some of the family members involved.

WHITFIELD: All right, James, and if I heard correctly the FBI spokesperson said a moment ago that they'll likely have another press conference approximately in about an hour from now. Is that still right as far as you know?

HATTORI: You know things are changing very quickly and press conferences are called as news warrants, so it's hard to predict. Fredricka, that's the latest here.

WHITFIELD: All right, James Hattori from Oregon City, thank you very much.




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