Chief: Triple murder rampage took just 20 minutes

Gunman killed ex-wife, ex-girlfriend, her father, self in Green Cove Springs

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – The violent triple murder-suicide that rocked a small Clay County town last Tuesday lasted just 20 minutes, according to the Green Cove Springs police chief.

Murray Lancaster abducted his ex-girlfriend, Valorie Short, from her workplace, then shot and killed her, her father and his ex-wife before taking his own life.

Erica Green, Lancaster's ex-wife, was laid to rest Tuesday at the First Baptist Church of Middleburg. Short and her father, Buddy Short, were buried Monday in Green Cove Springs.

The violent spree that ended their lives began when Lancaster kidnapped Valorie Short at gunpoint from the Green Cove Springs salon where she worked. He drove her in his truck to Magnolia West, where he found Buddy Short working construction, and then shot them both in the street.

Lancaster then drove to the Rosemary Hill Road landfill where Green worked and shot and killed her. He fled the scene in his truck, which was later found outside the Lancaster family home on Idlewild Avenue (State Road 16).

Chief Robert Musco said it took just 20 minutes from the time Valorie Short was abducted to the time police found Lancaster's vehicle outside the Idlewild Avenue property.

“From the time the abduction occurred to the time the phone call was made to the father, we responded in under 2 minutes,” Musco said. “The BOLO on the suspect was put out within 4 minutes of the initial call. … That’s how fast this occurred.”

Clay County SWAT teams surrounded a nearby camper on the Lancaster family property and later were able to enter the camper, where they found Lancaster dead.

Musco said the criminal investigation into the murders will continue for weeks to come as the detectives interview multiple people who were either witnesses or had potential knowledge of what was going on with Lancaster in the days leading up to his killing spree.

The shocking violence of it rocked the small town of Green Cove Springs, and the town's leaders said it will be a long healing process for a community where everyone knows everyone else.

Mayor Van Royal said Green’s father, Loyd, worked with the town's public works department.

“We’ve met at groups. I had a chance to speak to public works that day and spoke to them about how important it is to be part of Loyd and his family’s circumstances as they unfolded,” Royal said.

It hasn’t been easy at the police station either, Musco said.

He said many of his officers who responded to the triple murder had to see the bodies of people they knew personally.

“We all came together after the incident and had a little bit of a hug and prayer session in the briefing room,” Musco said. “We go to scenes every day, but this one here’s a little different in that several of the officers knew the victims personally.”

The shootings led to school lockdowns and road and neighborhood closures, and the agencies involved now have to review how everything was handled, including the actions of police.

Musco said that, so far, it appears the small town handled the crisis well.

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