The Pennsylvania man who shot and killed his estranged wife and kids before turning the gun on himself took the young children to a theme park a day before the massacre, authorities said.
Mark Short Sr. killed himself after murdering his 33-year-old wife, Megan, their 8-year-old daughter Lianna, 5-year-old son Mark Jr. and their 2-year-old daughter Willow in their Sinking Spring home on August 6.
The day before, Mark Short Sr. took the children to Hershey Park, knowing his wife would be moving out of their home the following day.
He allegedly offered to rent a moving truck for Megan Short's move to an apartment she had rented in Yardley on July 25, a week after she had called police because she had a dispute with her husband, prosecutors said.
The mother of three told responding officers she feared her husband would harm her, Berks County District Attorney John Adams told reporters Monday.
Officers advised her that she could file a protection-from-abuse order, which she said she planned to do, but never did, Adams said.
The next day, Mark Short purchased a .38-caliber handgun and bullets from a gun shop in Lancaster County, which he would use to kill his wife and their children, officials said.
Officers responded to the family home after Megan Short’s mother called police when her daughter failed to show up for a scheduled lunch, finding the bodies of the husband, wife and their kids in the living room.
The mother, as well as her little girls and boy who were still dressed in their pajamas, each suffered one gunshot wound. The family dog had been shot and killed as well.
Authorities said the murder weapon was found next to Mark Short Sr., who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the coroner’s office confirmed.
A handwritten note in Mark Short Sr.’s handwriting, where he reportedly admitted to the murders and to buying the gun, was found on the dining room table, CBS Philadelphia reported.
A funeral mass for Megan Short and her children was held Friday.
“Instead of tears, Megan would want smiles, laughter and family and friends to recall the love she had for all. An awesome Mom, Megan put her babies above all. She would research and research and research some more, to find the best for them,” her obituary read.
“She was spiritual, a deep thinker, an eloquent writer who studied the dictionary and practiced vocabulary as a teenager. She was sweet, caring, empathetic, forgiving, giving, accepting, helpful, real, strong, honest, an advocate for organ donation, intelligent and beautiful. In heaven with her are her three amazing babies: Liana, 8, Mark (MJ), 5, and our heart warrior Willow, 2.”
The family had previously been featured in the news after their youngest child, Willow, survived a heart transplant after birth. The doting mother often posted on social media about her daughter and the family’s journey after the surgery, writing about Willow’s health struggles and her little girl’s strong will to survive.
"I have been super emotional over everything the past couple days. Just when I get used to her getting a little bit of normal childhood, I am reminded of all that she has to endure throughout her life," Megan Short wrote in a May 25 Facebook post.
"I have wondered if she would grow up to resent the fact that we chose this for her. Thankfully, she is a happy, happy girl who truly loves life,” she continued. “It's like she just knows life is precious. I am not looking forward to the day that she starts asking questions about it all and realizes she is different. Soaking in every single minute of her joy."