Local/State

Reward upped to $100K in Va family's murder

Thursday, August 12, 2010
Mary, Jennifer, and Michael Short

Mary, Jennifer, and Michael Short (Images courtesy FBI)

Sunday marks the eighth anniversary of the slayings of a 9-year-old girl and her parents, and authorities are offering more reward money to help solve the case.

The reward for information that cracks the case is now $100,000.

Members of the task force investigating the murders of Michael, Mary, and Jennifer Short announced the increase at a news conference Friday, saying the reward reflects "the desire to solve the case."

Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry said the increased reward, which is good through February, is an attempt to shake loose information about the murders.

"We firmly believe that there are a couple people out there that have key information that we need to know that they're not letting go of," Perry said. "This is an opportunity for someone to do the right thing to bring a heinous killer to justice and to obtain life-changing money in the process. "What it offers a community and a family is closure, healing and solution."

According to FBI records, on August 15, 2002, a man who worked for Michael Short's mobile home moving business went to his employer's house in Oak Level, VA, expecting to drive his boss to Christiansburg to buy a truck.

The man discovered Short lying on a couch in his carport with a fatal gunshot wound to the head.

The man called 911, and Henry County deputies arrived to discover Short's wife Mary lying in her bed - also with a fatal gunshot wound to the head.

The phone line to the house had been cut and the couple's 9-year-old daughter Jennifer was missing.

A nationwide search for the child was launched, but it wasn't until more than a month later that a man in Rockingham County, North Carolina found the child's skeletal remains along a stream bed off of Grogan Road in Stoneville.

The medical examiner determined she too died by gunshot to the head.

Detectives have said the murder weapon appears to be a .22 caliber firearm. There were no signs of forced entry at the Short home and no sign of a struggle. Investigators said they suspect the Shorts were shot while sleeping.

The case has taken several twists and turns over the years. At one point, investigators named a person of interest, but later cleared him.

The murders have remained unsolved.

The reward has stood at $67,000 for years. The Federal Bureau of Investigation contributed $20,000, and the county chipped in the rest to boost the reward to $100,000.

Click here for the FBI page dedicated to the Short murders for information on how to leave a tip

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