On Missing Girls, The Oregonian

In the summer of missing girls, we have found our own.

Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis were murdered and discarded as cruelly as the imagination can bear. The discovery of their bodies over the weekend will help the families and community grieve, but also kicks into motion something else: the morbid fixation on every detail of this case, from the contents of Ward Weaver’s home to the color of their coffins when the girls are laid to rest…

Instead of life, they got immortality. This is little consolation. And it’s little compensation for the years when the girls suffered privately, without knowledge that life could be better, safer and fuller of love.

Both were sexually abused as very young girls by men who should have loved them. Both understood rancor and fighting and loss. One was locked out of her home repeatedly, left to cry in the parking lot.

They had happy moments, as home movies and photographs can testify. But even as elementary-school children, the girls knew more firsthand about hurt and betrayal than most people learn from a lifetime of books and movies. …

The prosecution of the murders of Ashley and Miranda will take months, if not years. During that time, every last angle will be dug up and turned over like a thousand small shovelfuls of dirt: the response time, the detective work, the evidence, the parenting, the social services. Undoubtedly, the story of two missing girls from Oregon City will become fodder for true-crime novels and television movies.

People grieve as they need to. It’s the only way to make sense of it all. But as the flowers fade along the fence at the Weaver home, perhaps the best way to honor Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis is to help other little girls however possible, one missing childhood at a time.

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