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Investigators release new plea for help in Short family murders

HENRY CO., Va. - Investigators in Henry County are following up on new leads in the Short family murders. The 16-year-old deaths still haunt the community.

"Wholeheartedly we want to see this case come to an end," Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry, said.

Ann Carter Dickerson is related to the Short family by marriage and also worked with Mary Short.

"It's really got to me and it still does, because they can't find whoever done it," said Dickerson.

On August 15, 2002,  Mary and Michael Short were found dead in their Basset home. Michael was found on a couch in the attached garage, shot in the head. Mary was found in the bedroom, also shot in the head.

Their 9-year-old daughter Jennifer Short was missing so a massive countywide search began.

State police, FBI, ATF, regional law enforcement, and volunteers poured in to help find the young girl. The search continued for weeks, calls constantly came in and officials frantically responded.

Sheriff Perry was on the force at the time. He said everything changed on September 25, 2002.

"There was a discovery down in North Carolina,"  said Sheriff Perry.

The discovery was at a home along Grogan Road in Stoneville, North Carolina, where a creek runs through the front yard, according to Sheriff Perry.

"Unfortunately, they had some dogs. The dogs had brought up something and when they got to check it, it was part of remains," said Sheriff Perry.

"The remains were checked. It was from Jennifer Short. We went down and checked that area, but it does appear that's where her body was discarded, down in North Carolina. That ended the search to find her alive."

The case became a joint investigation between the Henry County Sheriff's Office, in Virginia, and the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office, in North Carolina.

Tammi Howell is a Captain with the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office and was on the force when Jennifer's remains were found.

"It's a case I think about almost every day. Almost every week I think about it," Howell said.

Investigators conducted more than four thousand interviews in the case and they have suspects.

The last time the family was seen alive was the night before their murders. The family went through the drive-thru at Burger King in Collinsville before heading home. That was around 11:00 p.m., on August 14.

"That's the last point that we know anything about their life, other than the discovery of their bodies the next morning," Sheriff Perry said.

New leads are still being shared and anything to help the case is worth reporting.

"I mentioned about a year before last, that was something we had never heard before. It's still being worked on," said Sheriff Perry."

"Is it the one thread that breaks the case? It hasn't yet. I don't know if it will be, but it appears to be valid information that we didn't know before and it just continues to build."

The latest plea from investigators is for the people who were around Jennifer's age. They would have graduated high school by now. Many of them would probably be about college age. They are the only generation the Henry County Sheriff's Office hasn't heard from.

 "If someone was around her and heard her say something she was afraid of, a person she was afraid of, or anything she was concerned about, please come forward," said Sheriff Perry.

Investigators say the family was seemingly normal and there are no immediate signs of family issues, nothing that would lead to their murders.

Investigators who have worked the case said they are all under an agreement that no one will rest until the case is solved and the family's murderer is found.

It is justice that people like Ann Carter Dickerson also hope and pray for. She visits the short family grave site when she visits her husband's.

"I don't even go to my husband's graveyard like I used to. I used to go four times. I go about twice," said Dickerson. 

According to Dickerson, each of her visits grows harder and harder over time.

If you have any information that may help investigators solve the Short Family murders, you're asked to call the FBI tip line (1-800-2255324) or Crimestoppers (276-632-7463).


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