A history of violence going back generations in the family of death row inmate Ward Weaver Jr., one of Kern County’s most infamous killers, apparently has been passed on with the arrest Sunday in Oregon of Weaver’s step-grandson on suspicion of murder.
Francis Paul Weaver, 31, was arrested along with two other men in the fatal shooting of a Grants Pass, Ore. man, according to The Oregonian newspaper in Portland. Police say in reports obtained by The Oregonian that it appears Francis Weaver and the two other men allegedly planned to rob the victim of 15 pounds of marijuana. The robbery went bad and one of the suspects, 27-year-old Michael Arlan Orren, admitted to police he shot the victim twice in the head.
If Weaver’s involvement in the killing is true, it marks at least the fifth murder the Weaver family has been involved in since 1981.
Francis Weaver is the stepson of Ward Weaver III, who was sentenced in 2004 to two consecutive life terms in prison for killing two of his daughter's friends, ages 12 and 13, and hiding their bodies on his property in Oregon City, Ore.
Weaver III’s father, Ward Weaver Jr., was also convicted in 1982 of two murders.
“I just thought to myself, ‘Not again, not another one,’” said Bob Levoy, 59, brother of one of Ward Weaver Jr.’s victims.
He said this week’s news brings back memories of the murder of his sister, Barbara, in 1981. He was serving overseas in the U.S. Navy at the time she and her fiance were killed.
“I’m very disappointed that he hasn’t been executed yet,” Levoy said.
Weaver Jr. admitted to Kern County sheriff’s investigators in 1982 that more than a year earlier as a long-distance truck driver he stopped to help a couple with car trouble and killed them both. He said 23-year-old Barbara Levoy and 18-year-old Robert Radford were stranded along Highway 58 east of Tehachapi.
Weaver asked Radford to help him with something in the back of the truck. He then clubbed Radford to death with a metal bar, kidnapped Levoy and raped her, and took her to his home in Oroville where he tied her to a tree. He told investigators he planned to take her with him on his next trip.
But Levoy angered him when she bit his finger. He strangled her and buried her in his backyard.
Weaver tried to make a deal with prosecutors, saying he would lead them to 26 other victims, if they would waive the death penalty. They declined.
Ron Shumaker, the prosecutor in the case, said Thursday Ward Weaver Jr. was probably the most “bizarre” person he ever dealt with. And he said it’s likely Weaver Jr. is guilty of more murders than the two landing him on death row.
Shumaker said Weaver Jr.’s truck logs matched with about two dozen unsolved homicides up and down the west coast.
“Did he kill all those (people)?” said Shumaker. “Probably not all, but a good percentage I bet he did.”
The violence in the Weaver family didn’t begin with Ward Weaver Jr. His father, Ward Weaver Sr., sexually assaulted his mother, Dorothy, and women he brought home after Dorothy refused to have sex with him, according to a petition filed by appellate attorneys in Weaver Jr.’s case.
Dorothy took nerve pills and beat her children with belts. She told Weaver Jr. men should be castrated, and she forced him to sleep in her bed until he was 18, including on his wedding night.
The petitions say Weaver Sr. raped Weaver Jr.’s younger sister, and also molested two of Weaver Jr.’s daughters.
Weaver Jr. enlisted in the Army in 1967 and saw people he knew killed in battle. The petition says he witnessed Army friends take turns having sex with a Vietnamese girl with the permission of her father.
The sex stopped when the girl’s father slashed her throat.