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Short family remembered
Benefit ride to be Sunday
Ray Reynolds, organizer of the Jennifer Short Memorial Scholarship Bike/Car Ride, recently holds a T-shirt depicting Jennifer Short. She was found dead about six weeks after her parents, Michael and Mary Short, were found dead Aug. 15, 2002. (Contributed photo)
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
As he prepares for the annual scholarship benefit ride that will mark the 10th anniversary of the Short family deaths, Ray Reynolds said his memories of the morning of Aug. 15, 2002, remain clear.
“I remember seeing all the deputies from Henry County and the Rockingham County (North Carolina) crime unit sitting in the yard of Jennifer Short’s home at 8:30 at morning when I went to work,” Reynolds said. Crime scene tape was draped around the home.
At the time, he lived in Oak Level near the home of Michael and Mary Short and their daughter, 9-year-old Jennifer Renee Short.
That morning, Michael and Mary Short were found dead inside their home. Both had been shot once in the head. Jennifer was missing and presumed abducted by her parent’s killer or killers, police have said.
As the search for Jennifer intensified, Reynolds said authorities searched a barn and woods near the farmhouse he was renting.
“They searched all the businesses in the neighborhood. I remember one person saying he had to get out of bed at 4:30 one morning for them to check his business,” Reynolds said.
Jennifer’s remains were found in Rockingham County about six weeks after her parent’s deaths. Forensic scientists determined she also suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
There have been no arrests in the case.
“I think it’s ironic that Rockingham County (officials) were there at the home that morning, and then they found Jennifer at that bridge in Rockingham County,” Reynolds said.
The Short family murders were discussed everywhere, Reynolds said.
“All the stores, everywhere you went, everybody was scared to death (at the time),” he said. “The little girl wasn’t found for weeks, and when she was, everybody was scared. I know I was afraid at that time.”
Reynolds recalled the last time he saw Jennifer.
“I can still remember the night I saw the little girl and her daddy” at the store the night before the deaths, Reynolds said. “I’ll never forget it.”
Reynolds said he frequently saw Michael Short at building supply and convenience stores.
“He would always say ‘Hi.’ He was a hard worker. You could tell he was a hard worker because he was always dirty at the end of the day,” Reynolds said.
Michael Short owned and operated a mobile home moving company.
Although he did not know Mary Short, Reynolds said he often ran into her and Jennifer at the grocery store.
The Short home was near a building that formerly housed Annie’s Country Inn, Reynolds said.
“(Jennifer) was always out there at the store, hanging out,” Reynolds said. She would run back and forth from her home to the store, he added.
“You have to remember: It’s a family atmosphere in Oak Level. I don’t live there anymore, but every time I go out there, people still treat me like I live in the neighborhood,” he said.
The Short family deaths “put fear in everybody and brought national attention to the area we live,” Reynolds said. “It also made us realize it’s a dangerous world that we live in.”
Later, Reynolds organized a benefit ride that raises funds for a scholarship in Jennifer Short’s memory. This year, it will be held Sunday. (See related story.)
Rewards are available for information that results in the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.
Anyone with any information is asked to call the Henry County Sheriff’s Office at 638-8751, or Crime Stoppers at 63-CRIME (632-7463).