GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. - Family, friends and the tight-knit community in the small Clay County town of Green Cove Springs gathered at two separate vigils Wednesday night to show an outpouring of support for the victims of Tuesday’s triple murder.
“It’s like a day of infamy in this town. It’s a day that will always be remembered in this town. It'll never ever be forgotten. It’s going to be stuck in everybody’s mind forever,” said Clay County resident Reno Wolfe.
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Investigators said Murray Lancaster abducted his ex-girlfriend, Valorie Short, at gunpoint from a hair salon on Orange Avenue Tuesday morning and drove her to Magnolia West.
Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler said Lancaster then ran into Short's father, Welland "Buddy" Short, there and then shot and killed them both. Officers responding to 911 calls about the double shooting at County Road 315 and Medinah Lane found the two victims dead.
He then drove to the Rosemary Hill Road landfill, where his ex-wife, Erica Green, worked, and shot and killed her, Beseler said. After the three murders, Beseler said, Lancaster went to his home where he took his own life.
Vigil held at salon where victim was kidnapped
One vigil was held at the first spot in the string on events that led to four deaths, where authorities said Lancaster kidnapped Valorie Short.
Family and friends came together at the Keeping It Classy Hair and Nail Salon, where Valorie Short had worked since January, to pay their respects – still grief-stricken over the tragic events.
One man in attendance told News4Jax that he saw Valorie Short after she was kidnapped.
Henry Floyd, who works near the salon, said he knew Valorie Short and waved at her when he saw her drive off with Lancaster, only he didn’t know she was in trouble.
“He and her were in the truck leaving and he left here. I waved at her just going down the road. (She) didn’t wave back. That’s the last time I seen her,” Flloyd said. “(There was a) little arguing back and forth but I waved and I don’t think they seen me, might have, but I didn’t know anything was wrong. Just like normal girlfriend-boyfriend.”
Shortly after, investigators said Lancaster went and confronted Valorie Short’s father Buddy Short then murdered both of them before going to murder Erica Green.
Most locals knew someone involved in the tragedy. They said they’re shocked and just trying to get through this.
“She had such an infectious smile. She was great with everybody. She loved everybody. She was awesome,” said Krystal Fales, a friend of Valorie Short.
Both Valorie Short and Green each had two children.
An impromptu memorial of flowers has started to build at Valorie Short's station at the salon. A GoFundMe account has also been set up to help with funeral expenses for Buddy and Valorie Short.
Second vigil shows support for family of accused killer
Another vigil was held at the same time Wednesday evening at the church where members said Lancaster’s father is very involved.
Just a little more than a dozen people gathered inside First United Methodist Church to pray for the victims of the triple murder, as well as Lancester’s family.
“Pray for all the young people, all the couples who are having difficulty, that it doesn’t end like this,” said church member Mary Ruth Howes.
The small group came together in a circle and everyone said a prayer, many for Lancaster’s father, Larry Lancaster.
Those in attendance said Larry Lancaster is devastated about what happened and they’re all trying to support him through this horrific time.
“The Lancasters have always been members of this church. And we held up Larry Lancaster tonight, who’s an elder in this church. And we pray for them and their family like we did the families of the victims. It’s the Christian thing to do,” said Beseler.
Beseler said he knows many of the relatives of the people involved in the tragedy and he believe Clay County will pull through this very dark time.
“Clay County is a county that is very faithful and they’re going to draw on their faith. And churches are very important to give strength to the people and Clay County is a very religious community. And they’re going to draw on that strength in coming days as funerals are held and vigils are held,” Beseler said.
Lancaster is a nephew of former Clay County Sheriff Scott Lancaster.
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