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Jennifer Short ride marks 10 years
More than 300 take part in event
In front left, Ray Reynolds waves to people standing along U.S. 220 watching motorcycles pass. He lead 157 motorcycles and about 40 cars, trucks and other vehicles during the 10th annual Jennifer Short Memorial Scholarship Bike/Car Ride on Sunday. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Even after 10 years, an effort to remember and resolve the Short family slaying case remains strong.
Marking a decade since Jennifer Short and her parents were found dead, 157 motorcycles and about 40 cars, trucks and other vehicles participated in Sunday’s 10th annual Jennifer Short Memorial Scholarship Bike/Car Ride, said organizer Ray Reynolds.
The crowd “was the biggest group since 2004,” he added. More than 300 people took part in the ride, he said.
Reynolds said that about $3,200 was raised from the ride. That is in addition to $1,400 in donations collected before the ride, Reynolds said. Some of that money was used to purchase T-shirts to bring awareness to the event and cause, Reynolds added. Most of the shirts were sold, and he expects the rest to sell by the end of the week.
Linda Armijo of Rocky Mount was among those who took part in the event. She said she was pleased with the number of people who came to support the Short family Sunday.
“We definitely don’t want people to quit coming, because we want to keep her (Jennifer)” in everyone’s minds and hearts, she said.
At the time of the slayings, she was married to one of Jennifer’s brothers.
The remains of Jennifer, 9, were found in Rockingham County, N.C., about six weeks after her parents, Michael and Mary Short, were found dead inside their home in Oak Level on Aug. 15, 2002. Michael and Mary Short each had been shot once in the head, and Jennifer was missing and presumed abducted by her parent’s killer or killers, police had said at the time.
Forensic scientists determined Jennifer also suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
There have been no arrests.
“(The case) left a mark on a community between North Carolina and Henry County, and it wants to be healed,” said Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry to the crowd gathered on the Jennifer Renee Short Memorial Bridge in Rockingham County.
“Keep the spirit going to keep this case going and be a reminder to people until we get it solved,” Perry added. “We’re not letting it go.”
Armijo still hopes that the killer or killers will be brought to justice.
“It’s hard” even after 10 years, she said while holding back tears.
“Why would someone do that, especially to an innocent little girl?” she asked.
In spots along the route from Henry County to Rockingham County, people had parked their cars along the street and waved as the motorists passed by.
One car in the procession displayed a sign in the rear window reading, “10 Years, Jennifer Short, You’re Still Missed.”
Buck Mitchell of Rocky Mount was glad he took part in the ride for the first time.
“I felt in my heart that it was something I wanted to do,” he said.
Mitchell was friends with Michael Short and thought a lot of him, he said. He added that he hopes and prays justice is served on the killer or killers.
He sympathizes with the case because he has two children and three grandchildren.
“(It) could happen to anyone,” he said “... That could have been my daughter, my grandchild, my mom, my dad.”
Since the slayings, Mitchell doesn’t take his family for granted and lives each day like it’s his last, he added.
“(The case) made me look at life differently,” he said. “... There’s no promise for anything.”
Investigators still are assigned to the case in both Henry and Rockingham Counties because “we will not give up until this case is solved,” said Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page.
“We are in this together,” he said.
In most of the homicides Page has investigated, there is a connection between the victim and the offender; therefore, he stressed to those in attendance to “keep your ears open” and to contact authorities if anyone has any information that could help solve the case.
“That one piece of the puzzle is what we’re looking for, and we need your help,” he said.
“I want to thank you for your support, want to thank you for your prayers, want to thank you for remembering the Short family for their great loss and the community for their great loss,” Page told the crowd.
Proceeds from the ride will go to a scholarship fund in Jennifer’s memory. The fund is administered by Bassett Kiwanis Foundation. Each year, scholarships are awarded at Bassett High School, which Jennifer would have attended.
The ride began at Super Country 99.9 WZBB on U.S. 220 near Oak Level. Participants went on a 35-mile ride through the Virginia/North Carolina state line and stopped at the memorial bridge near where Jennifer’s remains were found. The ride ended at CrossPoint Church at Bassett High School.
Rewards are available for information that results in the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible in the Short cases. 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).