CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
No Leads in Short Family Murders, Disappearance
Aired August 20, 2002 - 10:08 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to take our audience now live to Virginia, hear the family of Jennifer Short, that girl who is missing, after her parents were killed execution style, are now speaking to the press.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... want to thank everyone that has prayed for Jennifer and her safe return. Please continue praying for her, and for the sheriff's department and all authorities involved that they have the strength to continue doing the outstanding job that they have done already. I beg you, if there is anyone out there that has any information about Jennifer, please call the sheriff's department. Jennifer, we miss you, and we love you very much. Please don't give up, because we will never give up until we find you.
QUESTION: Can you tell us your name and your relationship to the Short family?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm Mary's sister.
QUESTION: And your name is?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ruby. Ruby.
QUESTION: And your last name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Young.
QUESTION: Your last name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Young.
QUESTION: Where do you live, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Martinsville (ph).
QUESTION: Ma'am, do you have any idea what happened?
JIM WHITEHEAD, FAMILY MEMBER OF VICTIMS: We -- right now, we have no idea.
QUESTION: Could you step to the microphone please? Sorry.
WHITEHEAD: Right now, there is idea what happened, but I am going to ask the press to please, if you would, respect our dignity at this time with the -- as you know, the services have been laid out. Tomorrow at 6 to 9 will be the wake, and Thursday at 2:00 will be the funeral services.
Now, it is my understanding that the funeral director and the church is working on areas for the press to be located. And all I ask, is please don't come to us with the cameras, and interviews and all that. I beg you don't do that, because it's a hard time for the family as it is.
WHITEHEAD: I'm Jim Whitehead.
QUESTION: And your relationship to the family?
WHITEHEAD: I'm a brother-in-law.
QUESTION: Of Mary?
WHITEHEAD: Of Mary.
QUESTION: How do you spell your last name?
WHITEHEAD: Just the way it sounds, Whitehead.
QUESTION: Any foreshadowing of anything like this? Was there any trouble that you were aware of, of any nature?
WHITEHEAD: I don't -- not that I know of. There has been no evidence -- nothing I have heard of, of any trouble.
QUESTION: Mr. Whitehead, did she ever talk of any concern for Jennifer's safety?
QUESTION: If Jennifer is found, who will take custody of Jennifer?
WHITEHEAD: We're not really worried about who will take custody. We are more concerned of getting her home, and then we will cross them bridges when we get to it.
QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit more about Jennifer, and what kind of young girl she was?
WHITEHEAD: Just what you folks already know. Really, I am not -- I don't want to get into a long path, it's bad enough as it is. But I do want to thank everybody for spreading the word like you have. I'm totally amazed -- we are from Alaska, and it reached Alaska and stuff. So you guys have done a terrific job getting the word out for the family and us, in hopes that we will find her. And right now, that's all I really have to say.
Thank you. Thank you very much.
HARRIS: You've been listening this morning to some brief comments that are coming from Jennifer Short's family,members this morning, apparently an aunt and uncle of hers, who are there in town there, handling family business in the wake of this terrible tragedy, which apparently occurred last Thursday night sometime or Thursday morning of last week was the last known time that the girl was seen. And from what we here this morning, the family has announced there will be funerals on Thursday for Jennifer's mother and father who were shot in the head in their home.
And again, we said, all we know from what we heard so far from authorities was this happened sometime in early hours of Thursday morning. And those parents shot and somehow Jennifer disappeared from the home. We know the search continues for whoever may be responsible for that. Authorities haven't come up with too much information. They haven't had too many clues to work with. We heard yesterday horses were brought in for horseback searches. There might have been treacherous terrain and tough to get through with vehicles. They were also in the process of doing that. They were also working on dragging a pond that was somewhere near behind the home where this family lived.
The Short family also employed a number of transigents (ph) on their property. And as a result of that, it's been rather difficult for the police there to track down different people to talk with and interview.
As a matter of fact, they were in the process of tracking down some of those people and reinterviewing others. Now before we heard the parents -- or sorry the aunt and uncle speak moments ago in Bassett, Virginia, the sheriff, Sheriff Cassell was also out there talking to the press.
Let's check in now with our Jeanne Meserve who is there. Perhaps she can tell us what the sheriff had to say this morning.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Leon, good morning.
The sheriff didn't have much too much to report to in terms of progress. It sounds like more of the same. They're in the process of interviewing and reinterviewing anybody who knew the Short family in hopes of finding some promising lead in this case, but otherwise, he took us nowhere where we haven't been before. What happened today that we have not seen is family members coming out and speaking. The sister of Mary Short came out, her name is Ruby Young, and gave a very emotional appeal to the cameras.
Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBY YOUNG, AUNT: To plead with the people or peoples that have Jennifer, please release her so she can come home. We all miss her and her beyond words. We are begging for you to please call the authorities and let us know where she is, so they can bring her back home safely to her family who love her and miss her dearly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: Now a brother-in-law of Mary Short spoke as well. He appealed for privacy. He said accommodations were being made to allow the press to get some view of the services which were scheduled for viewing hours Wednesday night and services Thursday. But he is asking, please leave the family alone at this time for deep grief of them. He was asked about custody arrangements if Jennifer is found. He said, that is not our concern right now. What we want is to find this young girl.
I will tell you, that in the local paper today, there was an obituary notice for Mary and Michael Short. For both, said they were survived by a daughter, Jennifer, and the family did ask that any donations be made to the search and rescue team, which spent days scouring the land around the Short home.
Leon, back to you.
HARRIS: And, Jeanne, speaking of that search and rescue team, we know that they were out there trying to drag a pond out there on the property. Anything new out of that effort? Any other efforts like that in the offing?
MESERVE: No, search and rescue going on today. Yesterday we did have this one group down there at a pond that's in the middle of a farm not too far from the Short home. They went through it with hooks, dredging it, found nothing, looked with underwater cameras, found nothing. There was a crowd of 15 or 20 on horseback, going around the surrounding land that had been covered by people on foot. They also found nothing.
But what is significant today is having the family come out and talk. This has not happened in this case. Of course, Jennifer's parents are dead, and there has been some question about who would keep up the public profile, who was going to keep this little girl, her name and her picture, in the news, to keep people looking out for her? Today we found out, the relatives of Mary Short -- Leon.
HARRIS: Yes, and you can understand their concern and their feelings at this particular point in time, Jeanne.
Jeanne Meserve reporting live for us from Bassett, Virginia. Thank you, Jeanne.
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