- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2002

COLLINSVILLE, Va. Authorities seized a rifle, a shotgun, two .22-caliber shell casings and boxes of ammunition from the home where a 9-year-old was kidnapped and her parents were killed, according to a search warrant.
The two shell casings were found during a search Thursday near the bodies of Michael and Mary Short of Bassett. According to the warrant filed late Friday, officers also took other items from the red-brick ranch home, including bed covers, gunshot residue, a note written on paper from the kitchen table and an impression of the words "I'm glad to see" written on a window.
The firearms seized were a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle and a 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun.
Henry County Sheriff Frank Cassell said yesterday that he could not comment on the search warrant or on any evidence taken from the home. He also said he wasn't sure whether a ballistics report has been prepared and would not comment on whether the shell casings could have come from one of the two weapons.
"I'm not going to answer any forensics questions," Sheriff Cassell said at the afternoon briefing.
As the search for Jennifer Renee Short continued into its fifth day, investigators picked through "bags and bags" of evidence, tips from around the country and calls from 20 to 30 psychics. Authorities also have filed for another search warrant affidavit to retrieve more evidence from the home.
But Sheriff Cassell said they still have few leads.
"I'm afraid it's more of the same," he said, adding that he didn't think they were any closer to finding Jennifer than they were on Sunday.
Sheriff Cassell said nothing was found yesterday in searches of a pond behind the Shorts' home and in horseback canvassing of woods in the area.
Authorities were also checking registered sex offenders in the area and looking for what Sheriff Cassell called a "red or dark" car, pickup truck or van that a witness saw leaving the house early Thursday morning.
Police have not ruled out robbery as a motive, but a bag containing $485 in cash and a $211 check was found on the kitchen counter, according to the warrant.
"We have no reason to think this was a robbery, but again we're not discounting anything," Sheriff Cassell said.
Jennifer was discovered missing after a man who worked for the Shorts' mobile-home installation company found Mr. Short dead in his carport. The girl is likely to have been snatched from her bed sometime Thursday morning, police said.
Michael Short, 50, and Mary Hall Short, 36, had probably been shot dead in their sleep, Sheriff Cassell said. The phone lines had been cut before the slayings, he said.
Police lately have been concentrating on the close circle of Short family acquaintances. Sheriff Cassell said he believes Jennifer's captor is the same person who killed her parents, and that the person probably knew the family.
Christopher Thompson, 25, a laborer who worked for the family's business, was brought back in for questioning Sunday after having spoken with police several times over the last few days. Other business associates of Mr. Short also were re-interviewed, Sheriff Cassell said.
Police said Mr. Thompson is cooperating with the investigation and is not considered a suspect.
An autopsy report, which was expected yesterday, was not returned.

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