Discussion in 'Cold Cases' started by Doyle, Oct 9, 2003.
BBM...Also Ashley Freeman and Laurie Bible.
And Jayme Closs. In fact, when the Closs case occurred, the Short case was the first one I thought of.
This thread is about the Short family from Bassett VA ! Right ???!
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The other posters and I just mentioned cases where the parents of the missing child were killed and the child was taken from the home. The truth is...it does happen.
As far as how the said cases relate to the Short family murders, these are cases where the exact same thing happened.
The only thing on a predators mind is to take the kid. The parents are in the way of that so they are killed. If someone was there to kill the parents then that's what they would've done, they wouldn't have then decided to kidnap Jennifer. Murderers don't turn into kidnappers all of a sudden. This came up in the Closs case. Someone with LE experience said a murderer doesn't turn into a kidnapper but a kidnapper could turn into a murderer if someone was in their way. Which turned out to be accurate, JC was kidnapped- both parents were killed. Thank God in JC's case, she wasn't murdered after being kidnapped but Jennifer was. I have always and will always think this is centered around Jennifer. I pray that one day someone cracks the case and brings the Shorts justice after all these years
One never knows what is really on a criminal's mind. In the abduction of Ashley Freeman and Laurie Bible, Ashley's father was the target over drug money. His wife was collateral damage and the abduction was believed to be a spur of the moment thing. The killers didn't even know Laurie Bible was going to be there. After the killers got - or not - what they were looking for they abducted the two girls keeping them captive for days raping and torturing them before killing them.
I tend to believe Jennifer was the intended target, but I don't discount the possibility that one of the parents was the intended target and the killer took her instead of killing her on the spot.
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BBM...Just to clarify what I meant in the "exact same thing happened"... In the Closs, Short & Freeman/Bible cases, the parents were murdered inside their home and the children were removed by the killer or killers. The Freeman/Bible case was different in that there were two girls taken as only one in the Closs & Short cases.
We visited the sites Tuesday, September 7, 2021. We've heard about the truck parked across the highway. Well, on that side, there's an area with no guardrail and then an area with guardrail. Most likely, anybody pulling over would stop before the guardrail because the parking is pretty narrow once you get to the rail. There's be no room to open the passenger side door unless you parked a bit in the road.
Now if you park before the rail, you can look across the highway to where the house was located. But there's a pretty could mound of earth in the median. Maybe five foot high. And on the side nearest where one would park (near guardrail), I believe there's a bit of a ditch, too. Late at night, that would be a rather tricky climb and drop. Especially if carrying or dragging a child. One could walk further up or down the road and cross but you'd be more likely to be seen due to being a longer walk.
It just seems much more likely the killer would have parked at the business beside the Short house. It wouldn't have been out of the question to have even pulled in the driveway of their house near that same business. The driveway loops in at one corner of their property and out at the other end. Parking at the business or that end of the driveway also puts the killer nearer the phone line that was cut.
Both of us just really had doubts the killer would have parked all the way across the highway. If anything, drivers would have been more likely to have taken notice of the vehicle (and we do know the parked truck was seen by more than one person).
Here's the view of the guardrail. We stopped just before the end of the rail. This seems the most likely spot to park on the far side of the highway.
Here's a photo of our car parked in the same location. The location of the Short house is marked by the red arrow. Note that we're a decent distance off the pavement but could not have been that far out of the driving lane if we'd parked beside the guardrail.
Here's a photo when we actually parked beside the guardrail. We were pulled pretty close to the rail and you couldn't open the passenger door. You can see we did manage to stay out of the driving lane but it felt more dangerous than it looks in the photo. One end of the Short's driveway is just to the left of the orange barrels. The business I mentioned is also visible. It's a much better parking spot. Notice from where we're currently parked, the median hill is low at this point.
Finally, here's the view from the first place we parked, which was before the guardrail. Notice the mound in the median is rather high to cross in the dark. And there's a bit of a ditch on the nearside that you'd be unlikely to see in the dark. The house location is marked by the red arrow. The opening straight below the arrow is actually the main driveway entrance.
Here's a view from the business beside the Short house. One end of the Short's driveway was just past the orange barrels.
Here's a zoomed in view of part of the previous photo. This shows the mound of earth in the median. It would have been difficult to cross in the dark. Obviously someone could walk around it but even that might be a little difficult to see in the dark. And it would require a bit more walking/running/dragging/carrying.
Here's a view up the Short's driveway. This is the end nearest the phone line. Obviously the house is gone, now.
And here's the view as you start walking up that entrance. The pavement is still there but in rough shape. The house is completely gone except a few pieces of concrete block or chips of brick. You really can't even spot any of the foundation, now.
Here's the view from the Short driveway looking across the highway. I was probably standing near the sidewalk that went to their front door. The sidewalk is actually gone now. You can see these two trees in photos from 2002. The main driveway entrance is just to the right of the trees. The mound in the median doesn't look all that big in this photo but it's a bit deceiving, I believe.
Here's the view looking up the main driveway. The pole can be seen in old photos and had a streetlight back in 2002. This part of the driveway went past the left end of the house to the rear garage door. The pavement is still visible but deteriorating.
And here's the view from the main driveway entrance looking across the highway. You can barely see the top of the guardrail on the far side of the highway. Again, the mound seems must higher in person than it appears in photos. Also note you can see the mailbox post but the box is now gone.
Here's the view from the bottom of the main driveway entrance looking across the highway. That's a very steep mound and you can't even see the far lanes.
We went back later and these two photos are about 8:23 PM (evening time). Not fully dark, actually. The first, I have the headlights on so you can see a bit. The second, just the park lights, I think. So, that gives you a feel for what it looks like from the end of the guardrail looking across the highway toward the Short house. In the second photo, I think you can see how hard it would have been to see the mound in the median in the dark.
About 400 feet south of the Short house was a convenience mart. I assume this is where Jennifer was recorded on video earlier the day of the murders. It's on the same side of the highway as their house. Here it is:
Also bordering this same parking area are some old cabins and a longer building. All rental units, I'm sure, but abandoned now. Does anybody know if they were in use in 2002? If so, any occupant could have spotted Jennifer that day and watched which direction she departed.
If they only had one or two occupants, it would have been easy to take Jennifer there if the killer dared risking the walk down the highway. But I suspect he also could have walked behind the business that was beside the Short home:
Here are aerial photos from 2002.
The overall area. Short house marked with red arrow. Convenience mart and cabins marked with blue arrow.
The Short house. Note it looks easy to walk between the trees to go behind the neighboring business. I'd tend to wonder if Jennifer would have taken this route to stay away from the busy road during the day:
The business next door to the Shorts. An ideal parking spot:
The convenience mart and cabins:
And here's the 2002 aerial photo with a possible route (in red) for Jennifer to visit the store. The store's lot appears to be freshly paved all the way to the cabins and rooms. Anybody staying there could easily have seen Jennifer coming and going.
We also went to the bridge where Jennifer's remains were found. Google says it's about a forty minute drive and I guess that's about right. News stories said 30 miles but it certainly seems longer. Oddly, there are places along the way that the killer could have turned off of Route 220 that looked like they'd be remote. If he took the most direct route, oddly he went to a much more busy and developed exit.
Once you take the exit, you have to turn right, left, left, drive a ways and take another left. The distance between those last turns is over 2.5 miles but seems longer. It's not an urban area but there are a decent number of houses. When you make the final left, you're really not all that far from houses. I'd have thought the killer would have gone on further but he only went about 500 feet to the bridge. Goal to goal on a football field is 300 feet, for comparison. Driving from the intersection to the bridge is extremely short. In the dark, he'd have most likely stopped on the bridge, I think. And just past the bridge is the home of the person that found the remains.
It's possible the killer could have come in from the opposite direction but it's not the route Google gives.
The bridge is certainly higher than I expected. The bridge sides have been replaced and appear to be taller than the old news photos. Perhaps they knew there'd be visitors to the site and wanted to make it a little safer. Assuming Jennifer was brought that same night, it is pretty close to the nearby house. One would think a shot could have been heard but the occupants were likely asleep. Also, given the height there should have been a loud splash if the body landed directly in the water.
I'll post some photos in the next message.
The following two photos were taken while I stood in the same spot.
The intersection is marked with a red arrow. The memorial bridge sign is at the left. The bridge is behind me.
Standing in the exact same spot, I turned and took a photo of the bridge:
As you can see, it's not very far from the intersection to the bridge.
Next, I stood just off the far end of the bridge and took the following two photos.
This is looking toward the house of the people that found the remains. Their driveway is marked with a red arrow:
Standing in the same spot, here's a photo of the bridge:
So, you see the bridge was very close to the neighboring house. Did the killer just not realize a house was so close?
Here's a photo driving from the previously mentioned intersection to the bridge.
Here's a photo looking down the driveway of the neighboring house. The buidling closest to the center is a barn, I guess. The house is toward the left side and a bit hidden by trees.
If the dog had drug up some remains to the driveway, I wonder if the body landed in the water or not. Perhaps it actually landed on the shore. In the dark, it certainly wouldn't be easy to see the water.
As I recall, at least one story mentions a search was done on the original suspect very soon after the murders. The remains weren't found for six weeks, though. Could it be possible the killer knew about the suspect's general location and disposed of the body in that area to make him look guilty? We really have no way of knowing if Jennifer was held for some time. The location is quite a drive from the Short house and there are traffic lights that might have required stopping.
If there was sexual abuse, just where did it occur? At the body location? There's not a lot of great pullover spots along there. We pulled over and didn't realize there was a sharp drop off and were lucky to have not needed a tow truck and that was in daylight. In 2007 Google StreetView photos, there were just two driveways. Today there's a couple more.
The bridge in 2007 (looking toward previously mentioned intersection):
The two nearby driveways where one could pull over. The left is the house of the family that found the remains and was likely occupied. The right looks like a secluded road but leads to a house. Based on old aerial photos, the house was there in 1999. Anybody pulling into either drive would have certainly seen the house to left drive leads to.
I also took some video but I doubt I can upload it. This forum doesn't even like photos that are very large.
From my impressions. It seems unlikely the killer parked on the far side of the highway. The Short house was closer to the road than I expected. Standing in the yard, traffic feels very close and loud. Better parking spots was the southern driveway entrance or the business next door. Somebody at the convenience mart or the cabins could have seen Jennifer come and go. The Short house would have been very dark unless their rear streetlight was turned on. If it was, it would have lit the way to the garage door and the room where Mike was found. Police found the garage door open, I believe, and Mike had been asleep in the converted garage. From photos, I don't see another rear entrance to the house.
The body site wasn't as remote as I expected. The bridge was higher than expected. Parking would have been limited and risky. The place the original suspect's trailer was moved to is a very short drive away. Less than a mile drive so maybe two minutes. I'd wonder if the body location was either to send a message to the neighbor or to cast guilt on the original suspect. It just wasn't as remote as I expected and likely required using a highway exit that is certainly busy during daytime.