VA VA - Michael, 50, Mary, 36, & Jennifer Short, 9, Bassett, 15 Aug 2002

Sunny Day

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With all the cold cases being solved through DNA, I keep wondering if any DNA was collected from the scene. By that, I mean the house, because since Jennifer's remains had been left in the elements for many weeks I doubt if they could have recovered any DNA from her, but what about the house? The cut phone lines, Jennifer's bedding which I read had been pulled back, etc. I have tried to follow this since the beginning, but I don't recall seeing any mention of DNA. Also, wasn't there something written in the dust on one of the windows (garage?) I can't believe this person was so clever that he got into this house, shot and killed 2 people who were sleeping in separate areas of the house, abducted a little girl, and got away with it. I also think that this person spotted Jennifer at that convenience store close to her house, probably watched her and saw where she lived, and waiting for his opportunity. I think she was the sole reason for this crime. The cash being left on the counter makes me think this was not a robbery or a deal gone bad.
 

Simply Southern

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With all the cold cases being solved through DNA, I keep wondering if any DNA was collected from the scene. By that, I mean the house, because since Jennifer's remains had been left in the elements for many weeks I doubt if they could have recovered any DNA from her, but what about the house? The cut phone lines, Jennifer's bedding which I read had been pulled back, etc. I have tried to follow this since the beginning, but I don't recall seeing any mention of DNA. Also, wasn't there something written in the dust on one of the windows (garage?) I can't believe this person was so clever that he got into this house, shot and killed 2 people who were sleeping in separate areas of the house, abducted a little girl, and got away with it. I also think that this person spotted Jennifer at that convenience store close to her house, probably watched her and saw where she lived, and waiting for his opportunity. I think she was the sole reason for this crime. The cash being left on the counter makes me think this was not a robbery or a deal gone bad.


NO DNA collected at the scene. They had to exhume the bodies months later to ensue Jennifer was actually Mikes daughter. All due to rumors.

Never heard about the message in garage I'm sure that's the rumor.

Yup....think she was stalked at the motel/restaurant next door. It is very close to the home. Or a local who had seen her, that's a high traffic area.

They didn't get ANY DNA, none.

Still think the Sheriff or one of his deputies was involved. But then, he was so incompetent. A botched crime scene for sure. EMTs. Deputies from Henry, Franklin and Patrick counties all walking around in the crime scene. Chit chatting. It was a mess!!!

See no way to solve, there is nothing to go on.

Moo...
 

DoubleN1993

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But I do know the DNA wasn’t presented because do to cops letting people in before the forensic squad does and accidentally destroy the major evidences in that house.
 

Simply Southern

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But I do know the DNA wasn’t presented because do to cops letting people in before the forensic squad does and accidentally destroy the major evidences in that house.


There was NO DNA collected. None. They didn't collect so they had nothing to present.

It wasn't because of a contaminated crime scene they just didn't collect any.

Sheriff Cassell stated in several interviews. I tried to find one but it seems a lot of the articles are no longer on line, The local newspaper was sold a few years ago and many of the articles are no longer on line.

Yea, the whole crime investigation was kinda botched. Sheriff did make interviews trying to explain to local why he didn't get DNA, even from the victims.

At the time no one knew the Sheriff was crooked, it was several years later before he was arrested.
 

DoubleN1993

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There was NO DNA collected. None. They didn't collect so they had nothing to present.

It wasn't because of a contaminated crime scene they just didn't collect any.

Sheriff Cassell stated in several interviews. I tried to find one but it seems a lot of the articles are no longer on line, The local newspaper was sold a few years ago and many of the articles are no longer on line.

Yea, the whole crime investigation was kinda botched. Sheriff did make interviews trying to explain to local why he didn't get DNA, even from the victims.

At the time no one knew the Sheriff was crooked, it was several years later before he was arrested.

In my mind, this case is something not right about it . I don’t know why but it something not right .
 

Sunny Day

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There was NO DNA collected. None. They didn't collect so they had nothing to present.

It wasn't because of a contaminated crime scene they just didn't collect any.

Sheriff Cassell stated in several interviews. I tried to find one but it seems a lot of the articles are no longer on line, The local newspaper was sold a few years ago and many of the articles are no longer on line.

Yea, the whole crime investigation was kinda botched. Sheriff did make interviews trying to explain to local why he didn't get DNA, even from the victims.

At the time no one knew the Sheriff was crooked, it was several years later before he was arrested.
So he was saying they didn't collect DNA (meaning that they chose not to) or was he saying they didn't collect because there was none to collect? They wouldn't have been able to tell just by looking whether or not there was any DNA present so they just decided not to collect. I agree the investigation was totally botched from the very beginning. Incompetence to the enth degree. So terrible to think that if they had just swabbed everything in that house (and outside since phone lines were cut) they may have collected usable DNA and maybe this would be solved by now. Especially with genetic genealogy work. I also notice that Parabon labs is in Virginia!
 

Simply Southern

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So he was saying they didn't collect DNA (meaning that they chose not to) or was he saying they didn't collect because there was none to collect? They wouldn't have been able to tell just by looking whether or not there was any DNA present so they just decided not to collect. I agree the investigation was totally botched from the very beginning. Incompetence to the enth degree. So terrible to think that if they had just swabbed everything in that house (and outside since phone lines were cut) they may have collected usable DNA and maybe this would be solved by now. Especially with genetic genealogy work. I also notice that Parabon labs is in Virginia!


His response....didn't see a need to collect it.
 

BSfromBassettVA

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I live in Bassett, and worked in Madison NC at the time of the murders. I have always thought it was not a stranger....at least to the area.....Some said it could have been out of town drug related, however.....based on the route from the home to the body site..........someone from Rockingham County or knew the area......had to be involved because you don't drop a body.......where it was found....if you are an NY or Alanta drug hitman. At the time, 220 was being four laned. ....there were plenty of remote spots along the highway for an out of towner...to roll a body down a hill off the side of the road in the early morning....and no one....would have seen a thing. Gary Bowman, now deceased and never charged did not do it, based on what an employee and friend of mine told me at the time.....she came to me crying, I took her into the conference room and asked her what was wrong.....she said "they're saying Gary did it, that Gary did it and ran to Canada.....there is no way.........he came and told Doug (ex husband now) that he was moving to Canada weeks before the murder....they are making it like he was running to get away.....he also showed us his van and told us that he was giving his wood working tools to man over on the Grogan road...for helping him out over the years.......he said he was going to YellowKnife to hunt and trap and would be living near relatives..........." She also said she knew he drank, but that he was a fall down silly drunk, but that she had let him work in their house on cabinets and he was around their 11 or so year old and they never hab but good things to say about Gary Bowman.
With all the cold cases being solved through DNA, I keep wondering if any DNA was collected from the scene. By that, I mean the house, because since Jennifer's remains had been left in the elements for many weeks I doubt if they could have recovered any DNA from her, but what about the house? The cut phone lines, Jennifer's bedding which I read had been pulled back, etc. I have tried to follow this since the beginning, but I don't recall seeing any mention of DNA. Also, wasn't there something written in the dust on one of the windows (garage?) I can't believe this person was so clever that he got into this house, shot and killed 2 people who were sleeping in separate areas of the house, abducted a little girl, and got away with it. I also think that this person spotted Jennifer at that convenience store close to her house, probably watched her and saw where she lived, and waiting for his opportunity. I think she was the sole reason for this crime. The cash being left on the counter makes me think this was not a robbery or a deal gone bad.
on
 

TedMac

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I live in Bassett, and worked in Madison NC at the time of the murders. I have always thought it was not a stranger....at least to the area.....Some said it could have been out of town drug related, however.....based on the route from the home to the body site..........someone from Rockingham County or knew the area......had to be involved because you don't drop a body.......where it was found....if you are an NY or Alanta drug hitman. At the time, 220 was being four laned. ....there were plenty of remote spots along the highway for an out of towner...to roll a body down a hill off the side of the road in the early morning....and no one....would have seen a thing. Gary Bowman, now deceased and never charged did not do it, based on what an employee and friend of mine told me at the time.....she came to me crying, I took her into the conference room and asked her what was wrong.....she said "they're saying Gary did it, that Gary did it and ran to Canada.....there is no way.........he came and told Doug (ex husband now) that he was moving to Canada weeks before the murder....they are making it like he was running to get away.....he also showed us his van and told us that he was giving his wood working tools to man over on the Grogan road...for helping him out over the years.......he said he was going to YellowKnife to hunt and trap and would be living near relatives..........." She also said she knew he drank, but that he was a fall down silly drunk, but that she had let him work in their house on cabinets and he was around their 11 or so year old and they never hab but good things to say about Gary Bowman.

on
Welcome to Websleuths. Very good first post. Since you live in the area, could you tell us what the local people are saying about the murders? Do they have a favorite suspect and what do they believe to be the motive?
 

DoubleN1993

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I live in Bassett, and worked in Madison NC at the time of the murders. I have always thought it was not a stranger....at least to the area.....Some said it could have been out of town drug related, however.....based on the route from the home to the body site..........someone from Rockingham County or knew the area......had to be involved because you don't drop a body.......where it was found....if you are an NY or Alanta drug hitman. At the time, 220 was being four laned. ....there were plenty of remote spots along the highway for an out of towner...to roll a body down a hill off the side of the road in the early morning....and no one....would have seen a thing. Gary Bowman, now deceased and never charged did not do it, based on what an employee and friend of mine told me at the time.....she came to me crying, I took her into the conference room and asked her what was wrong.....she said "they're saying Gary did it, that Gary did it and ran to Canada.....there is no way.........he came and told Doug (ex husband now) that he was moving to Canada weeks before the murder....they are making it like he was running to get away.....he also showed us his van and told us that he was giving his wood working tools to man over on the Grogan road...for helping him out over the years.......he said he was going to YellowKnife to hunt and trap and would be living near relatives..........." She also said she knew he drank, but that he was a fall down silly drunk, but that she had let him work in their house on cabinets and he was around their 11 or so year old and they never hab but good things to say about Gary Bowman.
on
Welcome to Webslueths And I too think Bowman couldn’t do this murders because I learned that a friend of his said he was in no shape to move at the time of the murders
 

BSfromBassettVA

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Welcome to Websleuths. Very good first post. Since you live in the area, could you tell us what the local people are saying about the murders? Do they have a favorite suspect and what do they believe to be the motive?
It has been awhile since I have heard anyone speak of a potential suspect...or suspects.....lots talk around that time in Madison and Mayodan about the person who may have put Gary Bowman under the spotlight, other talk about a man in that area mad at Gary Bowman......might have been the same man...not sure. I know the murders were on America's Most Wanted twice.....I am surprised that there have not been any more "public" leads. I respect the FBI, State Police, and HCSO keeping details close......interestingly ironic....the house burned last year sparking lots of speculation that it was to cover up evidence. I am not in LE, I think another family moved in, so I doubt a murder cover up arson. I teach school and have used the case in my class for years teaching the legal process.....I know the Rockingham County SO alluded to the possibility that Jennifer was the target of a sexual predator. I am not sure, I explain to my kids (students) that some evil people would kill anyone without a thought, however there are killers who would kill an adult.....in this case two, but might pause and panic with a kid.....only to murder later as a last resort........especially....if the child could 1) identify them....2 ) knew them. I would like for a sponsor of some sort to pay for billboards up and down the 220 corridor with a pix of Jennifer and the words:" You've known....you've always known.....it's time to tell." The movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri gave me the idea...not as a slap at law enforcment but as a moral trigger to the killer or killers to come clean...but this would take $$$. Thank you for your kind comments and please forgive typos!
 

DoubleN1993

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It has been awhile since I have heard anyone speak of a potential suspect...or suspects.....lots talk around that time in Madison and Mayodan about the person who may have put Gary Bowman under the spotlight, other talk about a man in that area mad at Gary Bowman......might have been the same man...not sure. I know the murders were on America's Most Wanted twice.....I am surprised that there have not been any more "public" leads. I respect the FBI, State Police, and HCSO keeping details close......interestingly ironic....the house burned last year sparking lots of speculation that it was to cover up evidence. I am not in LE, I think another family moved in, so I doubt a murder cover up arson. I teach school and have used the case in my class for years teaching the legal process.....I know the Rockingham County SO alluded to the possibility that Jennifer was the target of a sexual predator. I am not sure, I explain to my kids (students) that some evil people would kill anyone without a thought, however there are killers who would kill an adult.....in this case two, but might pause and panic with a kid.....only to murder later as a last resort........especially....if the child could 1) identify them....2 ) knew them. I would like for a sponsor of some sort to pay for billboards up and down the 220 corridor with a pix of Jennifer and the words:" You've known....you've always known.....it's time to tell." The movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri gave me the idea...not as a slap at law enforcment but as a moral trigger to the killer or killers to come clean...but this would take $$$. Thank you for your kind comments and please forgive typos!
There are others that assume the case would never be solve due to mishandling evidence, one false suspect and no strong links.
I did been trying to work out theory of this case and did have some theories and stuff
 

TedMac

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It has been awhile since I have heard anyone speak of a potential suspect...or suspects.....lots talk around that time in Madison and Mayodan about the person who may have put Gary Bowman under the spotlight, other talk about a man in that area mad at Gary Bowman......might have been the same man...not sure. I know the murders were on America's Most Wanted twice.....I am surprised that there have not been any more "public" leads. I respect the FBI, State Police, and HCSO keeping details close......interestingly ironic....the house burned last year sparking lots of speculation that it was to cover up evidence. I am not in LE, I think another family moved in, so I doubt a murder cover up arson. I teach school and have used the case in my class for years teaching the legal process.....I know the Rockingham County SO alluded to the possibility that Jennifer was the target of a sexual predator. I am not sure, I explain to my kids (students) that some evil people would kill anyone without a thought, however there are killers who would kill an adult.....in this case two, but might pause and panic with a kid.....only to murder later as a last resort........especially....if the child could 1) identify them....2 ) knew them. I would like for a sponsor of some sort to pay for billboards up and down the 220 corridor with a pix of Jennifer and the words:" You've known....you've always known.....it's time to tell." The movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri gave me the idea...not as a slap at law enforcement but as a moral trigger to the killer or killers to come clean...but this would take $$$. Thank you for your kind comments and please forgive typos!

I agree that the possible motive may have been a pedophile who was after Jennifer. The case reminds me somewhat of the Jamie Closs case, Jamie was abducted by a sexual predator and her parents murdered during the abduction. If Jennifer wasn't the intended victim, why would the killer take her at all? He could have simply killed her in the house with her parents if he was afraid of her identifying him. Then again, I look at the Lauria Bible/Ashley Freeman case in Welsch, Oklahoma. Freeman's parents were murdered in their home and Lauria & Ashley were abducted. The motive (according to LE) was the Freemans owed a $$ to the killers over drugs and they were killed to settle the debt. The girls were abducted after the murders, but were not the real targets in the case.

I do believe the killer had some ties to the area where Jennifer's remains were found.
 

Sunny Day

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It has been awhile since I have heard anyone speak of a potential suspect...or suspects.....lots talk around that time in Madison and Mayodan about the person who may have put Gary Bowman under the spotlight, other talk about a man in that area mad at Gary Bowman......might have been the same man...not sure. I know the murders were on America's Most Wanted twice.....I am surprised that there have not been any more "public" leads. I respect the FBI, State Police, and HCSO keeping details close......interestingly ironic....the house burned last year sparking lots of speculation that it was to cover up evidence. I am not in LE, I think another family moved in, so I doubt a murder cover up arson. I teach school and have used the case in my class for years teaching the legal process.....I know the Rockingham County SO alluded to the possibility that Jennifer was the target of a sexual predator. I am not sure, I explain to my kids (students) that some evil people would kill anyone without a thought, however there are killers who would kill an adult.....in this case two, but might pause and panic with a kid.....only to murder later as a last resort........especially....if the child could 1) identify them....2 ) knew them. I would like for a sponsor of some sort to pay for billboards up and down the 220 corridor with a pix of Jennifer and the words:" You've known....you've always known.....it's time to tell." The movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri gave me the idea...not as a slap at law enforcment but as a moral trigger to the killer or killers to come clean...but this would take $$$. Thank you for your kind comments and please forgive typos!

Excellent idea for the billboards with Jennifer's picture on them! I've always thought the killer was probably from the Rockingham County area, and knew it well. I'm not from the area, but when I look at a map of where the Short's house was and then where Jennifer's body was found I get the feeling that whoever left her body there was familiar with the back roads, etc. and maybe lived in the area. I can't imagine that an out-of-state killer would pick that spot, or even know about it.
 

JnRyan

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Eye roll. HE didn't see a need?
There was a lady who called in a tip of a suspicious man in the vicinity. Several years later she wondered why the sheriff's dept had not contacted her so she called them again. The sheriff's dept had no record of the tip. The sketch of the man LE is looking for came from her 2nd call. I've tried to find the article that covered the story about the tip, but I can't find it now.
 

Andreee

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There was a lady who called in a tip of a suspicious man in the vicinity. Several years later she wondered why the sheriff's dept had not contacted her so she called them again. The sheriff's dept had no record of the tip. The sketch of the man LE is looking for came from her 2nd call. I've tried to find the article that covered the story about the tip, but I can't find it now.
In the earlier part of this thread it said Bowman made a remark to someone he wanted to kill a mobile home company owner, If so, i wouldnt rule him out.
 

Sunny Day

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There was a lady who called in a tip of a suspicious man in the vicinity. Several years later she wondered why the sheriff's dept had not contacted her so she called them again. The sheriff's dept had no record of the tip. The sketch of the man LE is looking for came from her 2nd call. I've tried to find the article that covered the story about the tip, but I can't find it now.
I remember that too. She actually underwent hypnosis to try and remember what he looked like but at the time she couldn't remember. Some time after the hypnosis she was watching TV and saw a commercial with Mike Rowe, the actor from the "Dirty Jobs" show. Suddenly it clicked with her that the guy she saw in the truck looked like Mike Rowe! They did a sketch of the guy and it was widely circulated along with a sketch of the flatbed truck.
 
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