Megan is Missing (2011) is a very run of the mill horror movie for the first 4/5th of the movie. But the last portion is so disturbing and terrifying the movie goes viral every few years as new groups of horror fans discover it. Most recently, in 2020 the film went viral on TikTok, with people filming their reactions to the film’s last 20 minutes. The trend got so big that Megan is Missing director Michael Goi made his own TikTok, explaining that while the footage in the film is not “real” he had forensic investigators working as technical advisors to help him make it as real as possible. Goi says he wanted Megan is Missing to be as horrifying as possible so that he would scare real kids away from meeting strangers online.
The movie’s plot follows two teen girls who are best friends: outgoing Megan Stewart and shy Amy Herman. 14-year-old Megan meets a boy online and disappears when she goes to meet him. Her best friend Amy is worried about her and reaches out to the boy, Josh, who she believes kidnapped Megan. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well. Like… it ends really, really badly for both girls. Do not watch this movie unless you can handle things ending about as bad as they can end for girls.
Though horrifying and graphic, the film has been praised by Mark Klaas, founder of the Klaaskids Foundation and the father of Polly Klaas, a 12-year-old girl who was abducted from a slumber party and then molested and murdered by Richard Allen Davis in Petaluma, California in 1993. He said, “Megan is Missing is a powerful, important film that deserves both attention and discussion. It should serve as a wake-up call for parents everywhere.” Klaaskids has also hosted fundraisers with Michael Goi where the movie is shown.
The most gruesome aspects of Megan is Missing were, I’m extremely sorry to tell you this, based on a real story:
On January 9, 2002, a 12-year-old girl named Ashley Pond disappeared on the way to her school bus stop in Oregon City, OR.
A few months later Ashley Pond’s best friend, 12-year-old Miranda Diane Gaddis, also disappeared.
While it was still a mystery, the story was featured on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries with Robert Stack:
Eight months after she disappeared, police found Ashley Pond’s body in a 55-gallon barrel underneath a concrete slab in the yard of Ashley and Miranda’s friend, Mallori Weaver. Gaddis’ body was also found on the property. Mallori’s father, Ward Weaver II, was charged, tried, and convicted for the murders.
The three girls had been best friends and were on a dance team together and had frequent sleepovers at the Weaver’s house. Ashley even moved in with the Weavers for a bit because her home life was unstable, however, Ashley moved home after taking a two-week vacation with the Weaver family to California during which Ward raped her. Ward’s response to this was pretty bizarre. He left a message for one of Ashley’s relatives that said:
“I’m calling to let you know that Ashley has just now accused me of molesting her and raping her…I want you to know that she is never allowed back at my house again. I’ve completely washed my hands of her. She just ruined the relationship.”
Ashley was 12 at the time. This occurred in September 2001, four months before Ashley disappeared. Another witness said that Ward’s live-in girlfriend was mad at him because he slept in the same bed as Ashley instead of his adult girlfriend. It’s also pretty weird that all this happened, multiple people in the community knew (and informed investigators) and it still took 8 months for police to get a search warrant for the Weaver’s house.
Before he got caught for Ashley and Miranda’s murders, Ward Weaver had:
— Physically and sexually abused a family member before he was 12-years-old. No charges.
— Beaten and raped another teen in 1981. This was reported to police but they declined to charge Weaver because he was “enlisted” and “leaving town”.
— Beaten his 5 months pregnant wife so badly she was hospitalized. Again, no charges.
— Been reported by a teacher at the girls’ school for kissing Ashley Pond “on the lips” when he dropped her off at school after a sleepover. No charges.
— Been reported by Ashley Pond herself to have raped her. This was reported to the police in 2001, but they never followed up and charged Weaver with any crime. No charges.
— Also, in 1984 Ward’s father, Ward Weaver I, was convicted of murdering a couple in California whose car had broken down. He also buried the bodies in his backyard.
Ward Weaver wasn’t even caught because police finally realized maybe they should investigate the man the missing girl said raped her right before she went missing. He was caught because his son, Francis Weaver, called the police on him because Ward tried to rape his son’s 19-year-old girlfriend. During a subsequent conversation with police, Francis told them he thought his father kidnapped and killed Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis and buried Ashley’s body underneath the concrete slab in his yard. A search warrant was issued and both girls’ bodies were found on the property. The Weaver’s house was a few hundred yards from the girls’ bus stop.
Ward Weaver is interesting, because he is a great example of how some predators act when they are caught that often tricks people into believing they are innocent because he was simply so adamant he wasn’t involved. Ward even claimed he was the victim of “anti-male bias” because he was suspected of harming his daughter’s friends. Weaver employs the DARVO tactic abusers use which stands for “deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender”. When he is faced with questions about his involvement in the kidnappings, Weaver turns the tables and attacks others while victimizing himself. He turns the teen girls he victimized into perpetrators of harm, like when he told Ashley’s relative that Ashley had “ruined” their relationship by reporting his rape.
Here’s an interview he gave where he’s literally standing on top of Ashley Pond’s body in his backyard, taunting the media, the viewers, and the mothers of the girls he murdered:
As we can see from this case. DARVO works exceptionally well. The police in this case were completely and utterly fooled by Ward Weaver. The man had been reported by the missing girl herself to have raped her, only four months before she disappeared. And it still took eight months for police to search Weaver’s home. And that was only because his son told them that he did it.
Miranda’s younger sister, Miriah Gaddis, visited Ward Weaver in jail. She says he told her about the murders and said he was planning to kill Miriah next. Ward Weaver II is serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Michael Goi has issued this warning for anyone who wants to watch Megan is Missing: “Do not watch the movie in the middle of the night. Do not watch the movie alone. And if you see the words ‘photo number one’ pop up on your screen, you have about four seconds to shut off the movie if you’re already kind of freaking out before you start seeing things that maybe you don’t want to see.”