By MEGAN TRIMBLE
LEESPORT, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania man bought a gun one day after police responded to a domestic dispute call, and a few weeks later he killed his wife and three children and then himself, authorities said.
The Berks County district attorney said Monday that 40-year-old Mark Short Sr. shot and killed his 33-year-old wife, Megan, and the couple's three children before turning the weapon on himself.
The children - 8-year-old Lianna, 5-year-old Mark Jr. and 2-year-old Willow - were found dead alongside their parents Aug. 6 in the family's home in Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania.
Police found the family members dead of gunshot wounds in the living room after a relative expressed concern that Megan Short had not shown for a lunch date. A dog also was found dead.
Investigators found a handwritten murder-suicide note and a handgun near Mark Short, but collected forensic evidence and performed an autopsy before ruling him the shooter. Investigators said Short appeared to have written the letter after he killed his family and acknowledged having bought the gun and using it to commit the murders.
District Attorney John Adams said the couple had been having domestic issues, and during a July 18 call to the house after a domestic dispute, police informed Megan Short how to seek a protection from abuse order. Authorities said Mark Short purchased a gun the next day that he used in the shootings a few weeks later. Megan Short never sought a protection order.
Adams said authorities could not speculate on a motive that prompted Mark Short to kill his family, but said he and his wife were in the middle of ending their marriage after 16 years, separating houses and that he'd been demoted in his job as a loan officer at the start of August.
"I don't know that we know specifically as to why this relationship had disintegrated. We don't have any answers to that," Adams said. "Suffice it to say based upon our investigation ... we can tell you he was going through a breakup of a marriage and he was emotional about that, but that's all we can tell you."
Authorities are not releasing the contents of the one-page letter at the relatives' wishes. Investigators said they are not aware of Mark Short having any substance abuse issues, but they are waiting for the results of a toxicology report.
Megan Short had alleged abuse in her relationship and posted on Facebook that she needed help moving out of the family's home on what turned out to be the same day all five were killed. Family members said relatives had been waiting to help her move to her new apartment that day.
The day before the shootings, Mark Short took the children to the HersheyPark amusement park without his wife as part of a family day sponsored by his employer.
The Shorts had been featured in news stories about their difficulties getting medication for Willow, who had a heart transplant. Megan Short previously wrote that anxiety related to her daughter's condition had left her with post-traumatic stress disorder and "survivor's guilt" when children with similar problems from other families died.
Hundreds attended a funeral Mass for the family Friday. Mark Short was mentioned only in passing during the service.
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