The 12th annual Jennifer Short Memorial Scholarship Bike/Car Ride on Sunday seemed almost festive at times, with people greeting friends they hadn’t seen in a year and milling around comparing motorcycles.
But there was a serious purpose to the ride that escaped no one Sunday — to bring to justice the person or persons who shot Michael, Mary and Jennifer Short to death in 2002 and closure to their family.
“I feel like the police have come to a standstill. They’ve done all they can. Without this ride the Short name would be forgotten,” said Larry Lackey of Charlotte, N.C., who has ridden in 10 of the Short rides.
Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry said that after each ride, the police get calls with information and tips about the homicides of the Short family. Mary and Michael Short were found, each shot in the head, in their Oak Level home on Aug. 15, 2002. Their 9-year-old daughter, Jennifer Short, was missing and presumed abducted by her parents’ killer or killers.
Jennifer’s remains were found about six weeks later in Rockingham County, N.C. She also had been shot to death.
“I can’t imagine who would shoot a 9-year-old girl,” exclaimed Bob Remillard of Winston-Salem, N.C., who said he has missed only one or two of the rides.
Remillard spread the word about Sunday’s ride in Winston-Salem. As a result, 13 motorcycles and up to 21 people traveled to Henry County for the ride.
Roy Fields and Jim Brewer also traveled from North Carolina for the ride this year for the first time.
Fields said he has followed the Short case since it happened.
“It was terrible. It was bad enough what they did to the parents” but what happened to their daughter was horrible, he said.
Brewer said they usually heard about the ride after it was over. But this year, they heard it was postponed a week ago due to weather, so they were able to take part on Sunday.
Brewer said “you never know” when he was asked if he thinks the Short case ever will be solved, but Fields said he has his doubts. “I don’t think it was amateurs,” he said, calling the crime “ruthless.”
Vernon Nelson of Patrick Springs said taking part in the ride is “good to not only have us remember (the case) but also to show support for the family, too. We want answers, too.”
Nelson has ridden in six or seven of the Short rides, and said he enjoys seeing some of the same people year after year. People still care about the case, he said, adding that he thinks it will be solved some day.
Doug Sharpe of Stuart was an investigator with the Henry County Sheriff’s Office in 2002.
“It’s solvable, in my opinion,” he said. He thinks someone’s conscience will lead to a break in the case.
The annual rides are important to keep the public from forgetting about the case, Sharpe said. “It keeps it out there once a year,” he added.
Ray Shinault of Walnut Cove, N.C., has taken part in several of the rides because he said he wants to see the case solved. Ricky Ring, also of Walnut Cove, added that the scholarship money raised by the ride helps young people.
Lackey predicted the Short rides will continue. “I don’t know if it’s so much the little girl or the tragedy (that continues to draw interest),” he said.
But someday, somehow, “someone will pay,” he said.