August 15, 2015: DA confirms Megan Short and the couple's children were shot to death by husband Mark Short. Read those developments here.
UPDATE: NBC10 Investigator George Spencer delved into the Short family's back story. Watch the video and read the story here.
U.S. & World
Megan Short, who died alongside her husband, Mark, and the couple's three children in an apparent murder-suicide over the weekend, had been planning to leave her husband, according to Mark Short's relatives.
Mark Short's cousin and aunt told NBC10/Telemundo62 reporter Andrea Cruz that Megan and Mark Short had been going through a tough separation recently, and that Mark had been trying to keep the family together.
"He was a family, family guy. He was all family. He worked himself to death to try and keep his family together," James Short, Mark Short's cousin, said. "It was just work, work, work and family. That was it."
Megan Short, though, alleged on Facebook that her husband was abusive, a friend told the Reading Eagle. She posted about her desire to leave the marriage on her Facebook profile, the friend said.
Mark Short's relatives, who live in Folcroft, Delaware County, where he grew up, said that he took his wife and their children, 2-year-old Willow, 5-year-old Mark Jr. and 8-year-old Liana, to Disney World in February in hopes of improving his relationship with his wife and convincing her to stay together. That didn't help, though, the relatives said, and Megan Short still planned to leave.
Police have said their investigation revealed the couple had "domestic issues," but they have not provided additional details.
On Saturday, police found 40-year-old Mark and Megan Short, 33, along with their three children and the family's dog, all dead of gunshot wounds in the living room of their home in the Berks County Borough of Sinking Spring. Officers paid a visit to the stately single home where the family lived on Winding Brook Drive when one of Megan Short's relatives called them, concerned after she failed to show up for a planned lunch, authorities said.
Police have not yet said who they believe did the shooting, but said investigators did find a "murder-suicide note" in the home, along with a handgun near one of the adults' bodies. Authorities called the family's deaths "an apparent tragic domestic incident."
Mark Short's relatives described him as a laid-back man who worked in the real-estate industry and would do anything for anyone, particularly his family.
"He was just a really good guy. You wouldn't think he would do this kind of thing, but in the situation he's in right now, you never can tell with people," James Short said of his cousin.
"Don't think any less of him, because he's a really, really good guy. He would do anything for anybody," James Short continued. "You don't know the situation, so don't try to judge."
James Short and other relatives said that Megan Short began dating Mark, who was seven years her senior, when she was just 17 years old, and that the couple had a child and married not long after that.
The family struggled with serious health issues in their youngest child, Willow, who was born with a congenital heart defect that required her to have a heart transplant when she was just days old. Articles in both the New York Times and the Reading Eagle chronicled the Shorts' struggles with Willow's health problems.
Megan Short also recently wrote about the post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety she suffers due to dealing with her young daughter's illness in a blog post on the Philly at Heart blog.
"There are very few moments when you can clearly see your life as separated into the before and after," Megan Short wrote. "Having a child born with a severe congenital heart defect has been the most significant shift of my life."
She wrote that she began taking medication and going to therapy for her PTSD in the blog post, which was published in April.
Despite the family's struggles, their Facebook pages seem to tell a different part of the story.
Mark and Megan Short's profiles both show dozens of photos of them together and with their blond-haired children, smiling.
On a photo of Mark Short and Megan posted on his page in December, he wrote, "She's still the most beautiful girl I've ever met ... I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have her as my wife and the mother of my three amazing children."
Mark Short's relatives said they expected his body to be released Monday afternoon following an autopsy, and that they plan to have his funeral in Delaware County. They said Megan Short's family is handling arrangements for her and the children.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.