Pressing the FBI for answers – ‘Who killed Jennifer Short?’ episode 5

Ten years after any new information was released about the investigation into the killings of Michael, Mary and Jennifer Short, FOX8 sat down with the FBI agent now in charge of the case.

Members of the Short family say they've always wanted to know more about what evidence authorities collected from the home and the motive behind the crime.

When asked why the FBI can't share what was collected in August 2002, the special agent heading the investigation said it could impact their ability to investigate. He asked that his identity be kept secret.

“Divulging certain things at certain times, that's part of the investigation and we just can't comment on, on what we've done in the investigation because it could affect it,” he said.

FOX8 learned that at least five special agents have taken over the case since the abduction and killings happened nearly two decades ago. The agent in charge said it can be beneficial for a case to have a fresh set of eyes on the investigation.

"Younger investigators that are motivated and they give it attention and it provides a little fresh perspective, like newer ideas, technologies change, investigators change,” he said.

The FBI released two sketches with witness information in 2009, seven years after the killings. The drawings show a flatbed truck said to be near the home in the early hours of Aug. 15, 2002, and a man with a weathered complexion believed to be sitting inside.

When asked why the sketches were released so many years later, the agent said he couldn't comment on whether the agency received new information or if the witness account had been withheld.

"I'll say that there's a specific reason why that we released it at that point in time. And I can't go into detail why those sketches were released at that point in time," he said.

Every year, the Henry County Sheriff's Office and federal investigators ask for people with information about the case to come forward. To jog memories 17 years after the crime, the lead investigator says knowing more about the family's comings and goings in the community and their planned move to South Carolina could help.

Sheriff Lane Perry announced a change in approach in 2015. The sheriff's office began asking Jennifer's classmates and friends to come forward. Deputies wanted to know if anyone had been watching Jennifer and if she was the target of the crime.

Caitlin Layne was close with Jennifer in school but doesn't remember anything unusual leading up to the summer of 2002.

“Jennifer, she was quiet, but at the same time she’s a really sweet girl," Layne said, holding back tears. "Anytime I think about Jennifer, it’s just a sweet, happy, kind person.”

Layne is raising a daughter of her own and says what happened to Jennifer has stayed with her.

“I’ve just become a little more cautious of my own surroundings and stuff, a little more wary,” she said.

None of the investigative agencies has ever revealed a motive for the crime, leaving family members and friends in the dark.

“I can’t imagine why something like that would happen to people like that,” Layne said.

This is part of our series on Jennifer Short's disappearance and death. 

For episode 4, click here.

For episode 3, click here.

For episode 2, click here.

For episode 1, click here.

Podcast

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