Brian Short, the founder of AllNurses.com, murdered his three teenage children and his wife before killing himself, according to the Star Tribune and WCCO. A source close to the investigation disclosed the news, stating that Brian’s wife may have tried to call 911 before she was killed. The South Lake Minnetonka Police Department confirmed in a statement on Saturday that Brian had killed his family and died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound, Yahoo! News reported. As the community struggles to understand what happened in the gruesome murder-suicide, potential clues might be found in a defamation lawsuit and Facebook posts left by Short’s son. Police have said it will take them a long time to sort through all the details of a murder scene that will haunt everyone who responded to the welfare check. The funerals will be held next week, and will be open to family and friends only.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Brian Short And AllNurses.com Were Facing a Lawsuit
Brian Short and AllNurses.com, along with some employees and commenters, were named in a lawusit by Achieve Test Prep and East Cost Test Prep, RadarOnline reported. The defamation lawsuit accused Short and AllNurses.com of colluding to endorse and approve posts that were false and defamatory against Achieve Test Prep. The lawsuit accused Short of paying people to post on AllNurses under fake names so that advertisers would pay more, WCCO reported.
A major AllNurses advertiser that competed with ATP, called Excelsior, was given preferential treatment, the suit stated. The actions caused ATP to lose out on potential business. Charges in the 101-page complaint included defamation, libel, breach of terms of service, misrepresentation, trademark infringement, unfair competition, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and more. On August 28, a judge denied a request to dismiss the case and ruled that it would be moved to Minnesota, where Short lived.
Some people are questioning, however, whether this lawsuit would have been enough to push Short over the edge. It’s unclear if AllNurses would have been at risk from the lawsuit or if insurance would have covered any damages.
Currently, AllNurses.com is only addressing the whole thing in a message board thread where members are allowed to only post condolences and praise for Brian. Any other posts are immediately deleted. One poster complained about this on Facebook, saying the compassion should be saved more for his wife and children.
2. The Family May Have Been Having Financial Problems
The victims were Brian Short, 45, his wife Karen Short, 48, and their children Cole Short, 17, Madison, 15, and Brooklyn, 14. Cole had told several friends that his family was planning to sell and move out of their $2 million mansion in Greenwood, Minnesota because it was too big for them, the Star Tribune reported. The family also ended their house cleaning services about three months ago. Polina’s Cleaning Services told the Star Tribune that the family didn’t give a reason why or warning for stopping the services. Although these pieces of information could hint at financial troubles, there are no public bankruptcies or liens against Short or his company, the Star Tribune added. A 2012 article by BIzJournals reported that AllNurses was bringing in $1 million a year in revenue and Short was the only employee, but he was considering hiring a few people to help run the constantly growing company. In fact, at least 50 companies over the years have offered to buy AllNurses.com from Short and he turned them down. If he were facing financial troubles, couldn’t he have just sold the business?
3. Cole Short’s Facebook Page May Have Hinted at Trouble at Home
Cole’s Facebook page may have hinted at trouble at home. He had two profiles, one that he stopped posting on in 2013, and one that he started in 2014. His original Facebook page hinted at possible issues, such as this post from around this time two years ago, when he said he was sent away:
He also made this post about his dad in February 2013:
It’s tough to know, however, if his posts indicated something was wrong or were just posts that a teenager would make on Facebook. His other Facebook profile had posts that looked fine, such as one from December 2014, when he shared a photo of a Christmas tree his family had put up. He joked that they used “a 12 foot ladder of course because of our last name lol.” One of his Facebook friends mentioned in a post that Cole sometime said he wished he had a family like theirs.
4. Brian Short’s Wife May Have Tried to Call 911 Before She Was Killed
Karen Short might have tried to call 911 when she heard gunshots in the house, according to the Star Tribune. The article indicates that Brian may have killed his three children with a shotgun first, while they were sleeping, and then killed Karen in their bedroom. He then killed himself in the attached garage, according to the source. The dog was left unharmed.
The police department of the small town only has 14 officers on staff and isn’t used to such terrible tragedy. The last murder they had to investigate was in 2013. They are taking things slow and, although AllNurses.com revealed that Short and his family were killed, the department hasn’t named them as victims or Brian Short as the killer.
5. Neighbors, Family, And Friends Described the Family as Kind And Happy
Nothing in Brian Short’s Facebook page hinted that there were any problems. In fact, friends, neighbors, and family members thought the family was happy. Brian and Karen seemed like a happy couple who were always together, People.com reported. They hosted parties at their home, but seemed unpretentious, according to friends. Brian seemed to be happy and smiling all the time. Some friends of the family have said on Facebook that they question the entire murder-suicide story, they can’t believe Brian would do something like this, and they wonder if there’s more to the case than the police have stated.