Short family's former Henry County home destroyed by fire; cause unknown

Shorts' 2002 murders made national headlines; case remains unsolved

HENRY COUNTY, Va. – The smoldering shell of the house where Mary and Michael Short were shot to death in 2002 was all that remained of the house late Wednesday morning.

The Short's 9-year-old daughter, Jennifer, was found in Rockingham County, North Carolina, six weeks after her parents were killed.

She had also been shot to death.

The case made national headlines but has never been solved.

After the Shorts were killed, Harden Crum's parents bought the house and have owned it ever since.

He heard about the fire while listening to the radio Wednesday morning.

"I didn't know what could be on fire, because I know (the house) didn't have any power. I know it couldn't be something like that. I don't know what (investigators are) going to find," Crum said.

His parents had been renting out the house, but it has been empty for a while.

He's well aware of the house's history.

"(The Short family murder is) a big tragedy in itself. This right here, I'm just thankful there wasn't anybody in it. The main thing now is, nobody can live in it period because they're going to have to build a house," Crum said. "I don't know what momma will do with it."

Collinsville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Tyler Beam said the Short family murder case is well known to the community as a whole.

"I know they do that Jennifer Short ride every year, and that's awesome that they do keep (the case alive). I'm sure there is a lot of people in the community (this fire) has affected or will affect," Beam said.

Firefighters were on scene for about five and a half hours Wednesday morning.

A plastic gas can was collected near the house in the backyard and put into an evidence bag.

The fire investigator said, however, that doesn't mean it's actually evidence.

Since the cause of the fire was not known at the time, anything that could potentially be evidence in the future had to be collected.

Investigating the fire was tough Wednesday morning because going into the house was not safe.

"The roof and the floor had collapsed in the house," Beam said.

An insurance investigator is being called in to conduct an independent investigation.

As for the Short family murder case, the Henry County Sheriff's Office does occasionally receives potential tips.

If you have any information about the case, or about the fire, contact the sheriff's office or the Henry County Department of Public Safety.