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Annual Jennifer Short ride to be held Sunday
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Mary and Michael Short are shown with their daughter Jennifer in a family photo. They all were shot to death in 2002, and no one has been charged in the homicides.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

An estimated 300 to 400 people are expected to take part in the 12th annual Jennifer Short Memorial Scholarship Bike/Car Ride on Sunday.

The ride raises funds for Bassett High School scholarships in memory of Jennifer, who would have attended BHS had she not been shot to death in 2002.

On Aug. 15 of that year, Jennifer’s parents, Mary and Michael Short, were found dead in their Oak Level home. Both had been shot in the head.

Jennifer, who was 9 at the time, was believed abducted from the home by her parents’ killer or killers. Her remains were found Sept. 25, 2002, along a stream bed off Grogan Road in Stoneville (Rockingham County), N.C. She, too, suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

No one has been charged in the homicides, but they have not been forgotten, either.

Ray Reynolds of Collinsville, who has organized the bike/car ride each year, said he gets asked about the case whenever he works out of town, whether it is at Smith Mountain Lake or West Virginia.

“People want justice for the family. People want someone charged, brought to justice. It’s a black eye for the whole community for this not to be solved,” he said.

Reynolds does not fault the police for not solving the crime, saying they have done everything possible.

“The newspaper and media are the only way to help” keep the case in the public’s eye and lead to new evidence, he said. “Maybe someone with a guilty conscience will come forward.”

That is one goal of the ride, in addition to raising scholarship funds. In 2013, six $500 scholarships were given in Jennifer’s memory; four were given the year before, Reynolds said.

He added that all money raised goes into the scholarship fund, which is administered by the Bassett Kiwanis Foundation. The Bassett Kiwanis Club also contributes to the fund, he said.

Henry County Sheriff’s Maj. Ricky Walker said publicity about the ride generally does generate tips. Each one is pursued, he said.

The sheriff’s office has someone assigned to the case full-time, Walker said. Leads and information come in “occasionally, but not as often as they did at one time,” he added.

The ride, he said, “helps the community in knowing it’s still at the forefront of our minds. ... It helps the community as far as healing and knowing they are able to do something” by contacting police with any information about the case.

Walker said he could not comment on whether there are any promising leads at this time.

“We’re still looking for the piece of information that puts all the pieces together,” he added. “The more time elapses, the harder it is, but we still believe there are folks out there who have information and may discover information that will help close the case.”

Martinsville Sheriff Steve Draper will lead the ride Sunday, as he has year after year. He worked with the Henry County Sheriff’s Office on the investigation when the crime occurred.

“It was the case I probably worked the hardest on,” so he has a personal interest in it, he said.

Like Walker, Draper compared the investigation to a puzzle with a piece missing.

Investigators are “hoping each year it’s going to make someone remember, or maybe they heard some talk, and maybe they will come forward” with the information that will lead to an arrest, Draper said.

In addition to Draper, Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry is expected to take part in the ride. Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins will speak at WZBB 99.9 radio station on U.S. 220 North before the ride starts at 1 p.m. Sunday. Martinsville Police Chief Sean Dunn has been invited.

Registration will begin at 11 a.m. at the radio station. This year, 30 cars from a Mustang Club will take part.

At 1 p.m., the riders will head south on U.S. 220 to Exit 135. They will take a right at a stoplight, left at Dan Valley Road, left on River Road and left on Grogan Road, stopping at the Jennifer Short Memorial Bridge.

A prayer will be said at the bridge, and Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page will speak. The group then will head back to Henry County and gather at Trash Ministries at Virginia Avenue in Collinsville.

There, riders will be treated to 200 dinners donated by Bojangles and 200 hot dogs contributed by Victory Baptist church. Refreshments also will be provided before the ride, and water will be available at the bridge.

Reynolds added that 22 to 26 police officers from Henry County and Rockingham County will ensure that the ride goes off safely. He credited Draper for taking care of all security.


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