Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Unsolved Short Family Murders

Eleven years and counting….
by Robert A. Waters

In Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Joseph E. Duncan murdered a mother and father so he could kidnap their two young children.  Escaping with his victims into the Montana wilderness, Duncan spent months torturing and raping Dylan and Shasta Groene.  Eventually, the serial killer shot-gunned Dylan to death.  Shasta was rescued and Duncan, convicted of several murders, received the death penalty.
In a more recent case, James Lee DiMaggio is accused of murdering the family of sixteen-year-old Hannah Anderson.  After kidnapping Hannah, DiMaggio fled to Idaho where he died in a shootout with police.  Hannah, still alive, was rushed to a local hospital for treatment.
Did someone murder Michael and Mary Frances Short in order to abduct their nine-year-old daughter, Jennifer?
It was on August 15, 2002 that investigators learned the child had gone missing.  Her parents lay dead in their Bassett, Virginia home, shot to death as they slept.
So where was Jennifer?
An FBI flyer described her: “Jennifer appeared to be a happy little girl experiencing a normal childhood.  She was an excellent student and actively involved in organized sports.”  She had no known enemies, and lived in a quiet, if modest, home.
Her parents owned a company that moved house trailers.  An employee of M. S. Mobile Home Movers who stopped by the house to check in for work discovered the bodies.  Michael Short, sleeping in the garage, had been murdered by a single small-caliber gunshot to the head.  He likely never knew what hit him.  Mary lay in her bed, also executed with a head-shot.
There was no sign of forcible entry, although the telephone line had been cut.
On September 25, Jennifer’s skeletonized remains were located 50 miles away in Rockingham County, North Carolina.  She, too, had died of a single gunshot wound to the head.
In eleven years, few clues have surfaced.  Police have investigated several possibilities.  Did the family have unknown enemies who wanted them dead?  Since their home had recently been put up for sale, did someone posing as a customer murder the family?  Michael sometimes hired day laborers, including illegal immigrants, and paid them in cash—did a former employee commit the murders?
One scenario is that a pedophile targeted the family, and that the object of the murders was to abduct little Jennifer.  If so, she was likely sexually assaulted before being killed.
The FBI released the following information about a possible suspect: “During the early morning hours of August 15, 2002, an unidentified male was observed sitting in a vehicle along U.S. Highway 220 in the vicinity of the Shorts’ Oak Level, Henry County, Virginia, residence. Investigators are seeking information regarding this individual and/or vehicle.  The unknown vehicle…is described as a 1998-2002, white, single-cab, two-ton flatbed stake body truck with wooden rails. Below is an artist’s depiction of this vehicle.”  A composite sketch of the occupant of the vehicle is also shown below.
If you know this person, or have any information about this case, please call the FBI at 1-800-225-5324.

Suspect and Truck Seen Near Short Residence

1 comment:

rick smiff said...

it's almost unbelievable that NO DNA or other foresnic evidence exists that can solve these horrific crimes.....too bad it was before installation of all these security and traffic cameras,the idea that this perpetrator is possibly still existing in the world