DA: Father of heart-transplant toddler killed family, self

Story highlights

  • Mark Short killed his wife and three children, DA says
  • One of his children, Willow Short, survived a heart transplant when she was 6 days old

(CNN)Megan Short was all set to leave her husband and move with her three children into a new home on August 6.

She had leased a residence in Yardley, Pennsylvania, and relatives were waiting there for her that day. All that remained to be done was for her estranged husband, Mark Short, to rent a moving van and help her move belongings from their Sinking Spring home.
    But Megan Short and her children never made it there.
    Mark Short killed his 33-year-old wife and the couple's three children, 8-year-old Liana, 5-year-old Mark Jr., and 2-year-old Willow, before turning the gun on himself, Berks County District Attorney John Adams said at a news conference Monday. Willow survived a heart transplant at 6 days old, and her story made national headlines.
    The couple had "domestic and marital problems," some of which led to police calls, Adams said. But none of them resulted in charges or arrests, and Megan Short declined to obtain protective order against her husband, Adams said.
    Willow Short and her family in September 2014, four months after she was born.
    "This was a very, very unfortunate incident," he said.
    An investigation revealed a timeline of troubling signs.
    In June, security in a Philadelphia hotel was called to respond to a domestic dispute in a room the Shorts were staying in, Adams said. He did not specify whether any charges resulted from the encounter.
    On July 18, Sinking Spring police officers responded to a domestic dispute at the Short home. No physical injuries were found and no charges were filed.
    The responding officers told Short how to get a protection from abuse order order, "but she chose not to," Adams said.
    Mark Short purchased the .38-caliber five-shot revolver handgun and a stock of ammunition from a licensed gun dealership on July 15. Ten days later, Megan Short leased the Yardley home and began making plans to leave.
    Mark Short was "demoted" at his job on August 1, Adams said. Four days later, the day before he killed them, he took his three children to Hershey Park, an amusement area, Adams said.
    Megan Short's mother called Sinking Spring police after her daughter did not show up on August 6.
    Police found their bodies and the family dog in the family's Sinking Spring home, dead from gunshot wounds, Adams said. Mark Short left a note admitting to buying the gun and killing his family, likely written after he killed his family, Adams said.
    "I don't know that anything that can be learned, other than that leaving an abusive relationship is often a very dangerous time for a victim, so we urge anyone who's in a similar situation to get a safety plan and contact a local domestic violence agency for assistance," the prosecutor said.