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Dogs find no clues in search for Virginia girl

Jennifer Short
A family photo of Jennifer Renee Short  

BASSETT, Virginia (CNN) -- Bloodhounds picked up the scent Sunday of missing 9-year-old Jennifer Renee Short, but authorities said the "hits" have not moved them closer to finding who killed her parents and apparently abducted her in southwestern Virginia three days ago.

"They got hits from the house down to the motel and the little convenience store area, but nothing behind or anywhere else," Henry County Sheriff H.F. Cassell told reporters.

Since those were areas frequented by the girl, "that really doesn't tell us anything," he said.

Police had brought the dogs and "a fresh set of eyes" Sunday to the home of Michael Wayne Short, 50, and Mary Hall Short, 36, where they were found dead from single gunshots to the head early Thursday. Their daughter, Jennifer Renee, had vanished.

Tip line
Henry County, Virginia, Sheriff's Department
276 638-8751

Sunday's lack of progress left the investigation where it has been almost since the start. "It's nothing to get real excited about," Cassell told reporters.

Though authorities have received dozens of tips, many of them from out of state, "we've gotten nowhere with them," he said.

Many of them have come from psychics in California, he said. "Most of them are kind of off the wall."

Cassell said he was hopeful the forensic evidence, which he would not describe, would yield more positive results.

"We're hoping that any of that type evidence may give us a better lead, or lead directly to the perpetrator," he said. "That's the purpose of gathering forensic evidence, and we've got a roomful."

Cassell said his intuition led him to "believe the perpetrator of this crime was from this general area and had knowledge of these victims."

State and federal authorities were helping with the investigation.

Investigators conducted more interviews Sunday, some with people they've already spoken with, the sheriff said.

Despite his frustration at the lack of progress, Cassell said he was still optimistic. "When I lose hope, I'll retire," he said.

Jennifer has brown hair, is 4 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 58 pounds.

An "Amber Alert" -- named for a 9-year-old girl abducted and killed in Texas six years ago -- has been issued for Jennifer, with billboards and signs posted throughout the state urging Virginians to be on the lookout.

A bloodhound searches around the Short home Sunday.
A bloodhound searches around the Short home Sunday.  

State and federal authorities are helping with the investigation, the sheriff said, and have been "since noon on the day the crime occurred."

On Saturday, officials suspended a volunteer search effort that covered 100 square miles but failed to produce evidence.




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