OREGON CITY — Thanks to the generosity of a local retiree, a tract of land here that is sadly remembered now as the site of a horrible crime two decades ago will instead find new purpose as a ministry headquarters.
As reported by The Oregonian, the property where two young girls were murdered in 2002 will become the new home for the Clackamas County chapter of the national outreach Love INC (Love in the Name of Christ). The agency is a coalition of local churches that provide social services, spiritual care and basic household goods for people in need.
Making this all possible is retired businessman Charles Kienlen of Happy Valley, who helped found the local Love INC chapter. Purchasing the property for $650,000, he offered to pay for the construction of a new building for Love INC.
Joan Jones, the agency’s executive director, told the newspaper she was absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity of Kienlen and his wife, Judith. Love INC currently rents space at Zion Lutheran Church in Oregon City, but the ex-panding ministry has for the past two years sought a bigger space. Jones had envisioned something large enough to serve meals and offer job training and parenting classes.
Since the early 1990s, local businessman Steve Hopkins owned the property, which once included a house that Hopkins had rented to Ward Weaver III. It is there that Weaver killed two local girls — Ashley Pond, 12, and Miranda Gaddis, 13.
Ashley vanished one morning in January 2002, and Miranda disappeared two month later. Both lived in an apartment complex near the house. Their disappearance created great panic among the city’s parents and became national news.
Months after they vanished, investigators discovered that Miranda’s remains were hidden in a shed be-hind the house, and Ashley’s were buried under a concrete slab in the backyard. Weaver was eventually convicted in the killings, as well as of attacking and raping his son’s 19-year-old girlfriend and raping a 15-year-old girl. Now 56, Weaver is serving life without parole at a state prison in Umatilla.
Aware that the house now represented horror, Hopkins had it torn down. The land was for sale over the years, but once prospective buyers learned what had happened there, they tended to lose interest. So the property sat empty.
Kienlen now envisions a memorial on the site to the two girls and also looks forward to the property being utilized to help many people.