By Debbie Hall
Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry, Rockingham County N.C. Sheriff Sam Page and the Virginia State Police will appoint investigators to the entity, according to Perry, who recalled that he was a road deputy when the incident began to unfold around 9 a.m. on Aug. 15, 2002. The bodies of Michael and Mary Short were found inside their Bassett home.
Michael Short was found on a couch inside an attached garage. Mary Short was found lying in her bed. Each suffered an apparent gunshot wound to the head. Their 9-year-old daughter, Jennifer, was missing and initially presumed kidnapped.
Remains found about six-weeks later along Grogan Road in Rockingham County, N.C., were determined to belong to Jennifer. Forensic scientists also determined that Jennifer suffered the same fate as her parents – a single gunshot wound to the head.
There have been no arrests in the case to date, but Perry said authorities are not giving up.
“This has never been a forgotten case. Basically, we’ve always kept this case open, and we’ve always worked leads, but a number of the people who worked the case initially have since retired,” Perry said. Members of the new task force “will put fresh eyes on it. They will go back to the origins of the case and start from the initial 911 call to see if there’s anything we see different,” Perry said.
Task force members will be looking for “anything that needed to be followed up on back then, and wasn’t,” as well perusing interviews and reexamining evidence in the case, the sheriff said.
“The evidence has gone through thorough testing, but it will undergo more” tests with the most current equipment available, he said, and added the task force also will reread all of the statements related to the case.
“This has been a massive, massive case. There have been over 4,000 interviews already conducted,” Perry said.
Assistance will be sought from the FBI and the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives), as needed, he added.
“They have worked with us for a number of years on this case and they still do,” Perry said.
The task force is expected to be operational later this fall.
Currently, a $62,500 reward is available for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible. Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at (276) 632-7463 or 276-63CRIME. Information also may be reported to the FBI by logging onto www.richmond.fbi,gov or calling the FBI Tip Line at 1-800-225-5324.