Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Deaths from My Childhood

I'm not sure why, but this post reminds me a lot of my growing up years in Oregon City.  It's a fairly uneventful place, but we've sure had a lot of strange and saddening deaths for being an "uneventful place." 

When I was little a girl that lived two houses down from me and across the street was murdered by a drug addict that was staying with the family.  I remember going to visit her gravestone in the local cemetery when I was little.  There was a picture of a lamb on her gravestone.

When I was a freshman in high school Ashley Pond and Marissa Gaddis (two middle school girls) went missing.  My older sister was a "Big Sister" to Ashley Pond in the Big Brother Big Sister program when Ashley was in grade school, so I didn't know Ashley very well, but I had walked to school with her a few times.  I knew who she was.  A search for these girls went on for months.  Finally the police found their bones buried in a cement slab in the back yard of their killer, a man who lived at the top of the hill next to the girls' apartment complex where the kids from that complex waited for the school bus.  The words "cement slab" make me think of nothing else but those girls and their bones being buried in his back yard.  Young girls didn't walk around Oregon City alone anymore after that.  To this day I can still remember their faces from the missing person signs that hung around the whole town for months.  Like those old "Proud to be an American" signs that people printed off and taped in their car windows after 9-11, the missing person signs stayed up and the printer ink faded. 

There was a cat woman who lived at the head of our dead-end street name Sharon.  Her house smelled terrible.  And she never let anybody go inside it.  She lived alone.  She was a member of our ward, but I don't remember her ever really going to church.  But my step dad was her home teacher, so there was a while there where she came to our house for dinner every Sunday.  She gave my mom a blue and white striped apron that I really like.  She gave my brother a painting of a dragon and a wizard.  A few years later Sharon moved away.  It was some time after that when my mom read in the paper that Sharon's daughter had been arrested.  Apparently Sharon's daughter had hired a hit man to kill a couple of people at her work.  Well, when the hit man turned out to be an undercover cop, Sharon's daughter had asked if she could get off a little easier if she told the cops some dirt on her mom.  I guess they said yes because that's when it came out that Sharon had murdered her husband several years earlier.  She had killed him and made it look like he had a heart attack while cutting wood out in the back yard. 

That was in 1986.  The year I was born.


  1. Yup. I think all those are weird and strange, too. And they happened right here. (Ward Weaver, who killed Ashley & Miranda, was Miranda's stepdad.)

    1. Are you even from Oregon city?

    2. The comment above was written my mom, who teaches at OCHS. Yes, we are from Oregon City. I apologize that some of our facts may not be right. But perhaps that's part of the collective memory here, that so many of us--even someone like me who had actually met Ashley when she was younger--never quite knew everything about what had happened. And I think that (the not knowing everything) added to the panic that a lot of us felt.

    3. To say things like that as if its just a horrible story or nightmare someone else lived. Its real life and a fact that some of us have to live with everyday.
      My sisters murderer was NOT her step father. A friends father, a man who lived near by.

    4. I knew ashley for years. That has nothing to do with the statements made. Panic? Imagine it was YOUR sister or brother...then we can discuss panic and the real feelings you have. The horrific things that happened in the city you lived in do not make you who you are or make up your past. the things each person goes through and experiences are the things that make us. how we deal with those things life throws at us,makes us who we are.

    5. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, of course, but I believe that what happened around me as a child has most definitely shaped me and helped make me who I am.

      I hope you'll understand that this blog was a place where I was simply sharing some pieces of my writing. It's not a news blog, a carefully curated collection of articles, or anything of the sort. These are simply my memories, to which I am fully entitled. Memories are never perfect and neither is anything I've shared here on this blog. I hope that, if you are looking to argue with someone about what happened, you will look elsewhere.

      My sincere condolences for the loss of your sister. I wish you all the best in your own future.

  2. Are you in a bit of a dark mood today? Yes it's all true. I'm not sure if the people that bought Sharon's house know the history...but I guess they're not likely to see this post either. ;)

  3. First of all,i am Marissa. Miranda and ashley were kidnapped and murdered. Miranda is my sister..
    second,ward was not through step dad. you all need to get your facts straight!