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Police Focus on Several People in Search for Jennifer Short

Authorities investigating the disappearance of a 9-year-old girl almost a week ago said they were looking closely at several people but have no concrete evidence tying anyone to the case.

Relatives of Jennifer Short, meanwhile, said Wednesday they were gathering a reward for the girl's return and pleaded with her captors to let her go.

"She doesn't deserve to be going through whatever she's going through right now," said Frank Arrington, Jennifer's great-uncle. "Please do the right thing and bring her back to her family."

Arrington, Michael Short's uncle, also spoke directly to the girl: "Jennifer, honey, I'm looking forward to the fishing trip I promised to take you on."

Jennifer has been missing and presumed kidnapped since last Thursday, when her parents, Michael and Mary Short, were found shot to death at their home in Bassett, about 35 miles south of Roanoke.

At the same news conference Wednesday, Henry County Sheriff Frank Cassell said authorities have "some people that we're looking real strongly at. But we have no concrete evidence."

The focus is now on people outside the family, Cassell said.

Sightings reported Tuesday of a girl resembling Jennifer with an armed man about 50 miles south in Winston-Salem, N.C., have not panned out, he said.

An autopsy report en route to authorities Wednesday confirmed that the Shorts -- Michael, 50, and Mary, 36, -- died from gunshot wounds.

William Massello, assistant chief medical examiner in Roanoke, would not discuss the type of weapon used or the number of shots fired. The times of the deaths were not determined, he said.

Relatives were planning a wake for the couple later Wednesday and a funeral Thursday afternoon. At Wednesday's briefing, they wore yellow ribbons as a symbol that they consider Jennifer missing.