Date: 22 Sep 1988
David Terence Short was murdered at his house in Ethel Road on the evening of Thursday 22 September 1988.
He answered his door and someone sprayed CS gas in his eyes incapacitating him and he was then hit over the head twice with some object and died soon after.
He had lived in Broadstairs Kent and had done so for most of his life. At the time he had been working as a double-glazing salesman for Danham Windows as their East Kent representative and had been doing so since Christmas 1987.
It was noted that he had done a variety of jobs over the years and that in 1996 he had been working at the Castle Keep hotel as a barman. It was said that one night whilst he was working there that two men came in and threatened to kill him if there was any more trouble from him and that a week later he turned up for work with two black eyes and a swollen face.
The police noted that David Short used to frequent a number of the nightclubs around Broadstairs and said that they were interested in speaking to anyone that had seen him in any of them. It was also said that he had become associated with a person called Maz, but the police said that they didn't know who that was and had never traced him.
It was noted that business was going very well for David Short and he bought a distinctive white Rover car. However, it was damaged around the time of his death as though someone had attacked it and about a month before his death someone had vandalised his car with paint stripper and it was concluded that someone had a grudge against him and knew where he lived.
It was noted that there were also three other incidents:
Two weeks before he was murdered a neighbour said that they looked out of their window and noticed a short dark-haired man arguing with David Short on his doorstep. At the time she said that she thought that it perhaps had something to do with his business. The police later released a photofit of the man who also had a moustache.
On the day he was murdered, Thursday 22 September 1988, David Short had come home from an afternoon appointment and had prepared the evening meal which he had with his wife and his mother at their dining room table at about 5.30pm. David Short and his wife had been planning on buying a new house together and they had a discussion about it.
At about 7pm a neighbour said that she saw David Short's wife and mother leaving the house to go off and play bingo. She said that she next saw David Short leave his house about ten minutes later at 7.10pm, smartly dressed and carrying a briefcase. She said that she noted that David Short had sat in his car for a few minutes before driving off.
The police said that David Short's diary indicated that he had had an appointment in Deal, Kent at that time and it was thought to have been about 8.45pm when he had returned home.
When he got back there was a yellow Vauxhall Chevette parked across the road from his house which had broken down and the owner had gone off for help.
Shortly after, at about 9.15pm a witness saw a motorcyclist in St Peters Park Road standing by his motorcycle preparing to drive off and the police appealed for that person to come forward.
The owner of the yellow Chevette came back at 9.20pm with his brother and they towed the car away. When the men were questioned about the night, they said that in the twenty minutes that it took them to tow the car away, they didn't remember seeing David Short's white Rover car. As such, the police questioned whether David Short had gone out again during that period after having returned at 8.45pm and that if he did, then where?
At about the same time, 9.20pm, about a quarter of a mile away, a witness said that he saw two men shouting in a car. He said that it was an orange or red old-style saloon car and said that the car was driving erratically, stopping and starting. He said that he then saw it stop just around the corner outside the Albion public house and that he saw two men get out from each side and start shouting at each other.
At about 9.45pm, David Short's wife and his mother left the Pleasurama bingo hall in Ramsgate where they had been playing bingo. By the time they got home at 10pm David Short had been murdered. They found his body lying on the pathway between two broken milk bottles and then called for an ambulance.
At about the same time that David Short was shot, a man was seen running off down a nearby alleyway.
When the police described David Short they said that he wasn't very popular and that he had had many threats made to him noting the threat to his life in the Castle Keep two years earlier and the fact that someone had poured paint stripper over his car a month before he was murdered as well as the man that was seen arguing with him at his house. As such the police said that there could have been many reasons for his death but said that they were not clear about what the actual motive was.
However, his wife later claimed that David Short was a Jekyll and Hyde character and that she had spent 15 years of anguish living with him and his lies.
The police noted that CS gas was illegal to sell in the UK, but said that it was possible to buy it in France and they showed pictures of two canisters of such CS gas at an appeal that might have been used in the hope that someone might recognise them as something they remembered someone possessing. The police also noted that a man called the police incident desk shortly after the murder to say that someone had bought some CS gas in Dover for a job in Margate. They police said that the man had promised to call back but never did and appealed for him to call again.
The police noted that the fact that CS gas was used to incapacitate David Short was an important aspect of the case as CS gas was not easy to get hold of.
In the police appeal, they said that they were looking for three sets of people:
In 2001 an anonymous letter was sent to the police claiming to reveal the identity of the murderer. It was a hand-written letter with a Dorset postmark and the police appealed for the writer of the letter to come forward. The police said, 'Officers do think it may provide the key to the inquiry. They do not think it's a crank or some elaborate hoax. We don't know what the motive of the letter was, but in these circumstances there's always a lot of speculation about someone wanting to get something off their chest. But we don't have any firm idea why someone would want to pass on this information now, after 14 years. The ideal outcome of the inquiry would be if the author of the letter came forward. Otherwise maybe someone else knows something about it'.
A Detective Inspector added, 'The author of this letter clearly has information that is key to this inquiry and we would appeal for that person to come forward and contact us as soon as possible. We can assure their confidentiality'.
David Short's wife, who described David Short as a Jekyll and Hyde character said that she had been working 14-hour days in order to pay off his debts and that one time she had opened her front door to meet a man with a shotgun who had knocked her out of the way and had stormed through the house looking for David Short. She later said that she had discovered that he had remortgaged their house seven times without her knowing and that he had been declared bankrupt twice and had left debts of at least £50,000.
She added that after he died she found fourteen hard-porn videos stashed away under the stairs at their house and said that she had feared that he had been having an affair with another man.
She also said that she had suspected him of drug running after he had made a secret trip to Jersey. She said that after his death she found out that he had even made two trips to Jersey that she didn't know anything about.
She said that as their relationship deteriorated and she became aware of David Short's double life he walked out on her and their 9-year-old child in January 1988 and it was at that time she said that she discovered that the remortgage payments on thier house had fallen behind. She said that the house was then repossessed and that she had to move into a holiday home. She said that it was just before David Short left her that the man with the shotgun had called at their house and stormed in. She said, 'I just froze and let him run through. When someone charges past you with a gun, you don't worry about stopping them. He realised Dave wasn't there and left. Seconds later Dave came in. He must have seen the man leave'.
She claimed that in order to avoid money lenders David Short had started to park around the corner and would peer round the corner to see if the coast was clear.
David Short's wife added that David Short had had at least two official girlfriends whilst they were together, one who was several years older than him, and said that there were also another half a dozen other women that he would see occasionally. She said that on one occasion she went to one of the women’s houses and that when she knocked at the door David Short had answered it wearing a dressing gown and said that the woman was standing behind him in a negligee. She said that the thing that amazed her about it was that the woman's house was decorated almost exactly like her house, even down to the same fish tank, noting that the only difference was that her bathroom was bigger.
David Short's wife said, 'Even the women he was with were like me but a few years older. It was like being in a time warp. He was so cool and just asked me if I had come round because their son was ill'.
She said that on another occasion she had answered the phone to be asked whether David Short would be wanting the hotel room with the jacuzzi.
She added, 'They say love is blind. I just held on. People don't get divorced in my family and I was working so hard I didn't have time to think about what was going on. It's only now when I look back that things seem to fit in place. He even took his women to the same places as he took me. One night we were in a nightclub and one of his girlfriends was there. All his friends knew about her and the situation with us and seemed to accept it. I was the only one who did not know'.
She said that when he got beaten up he would deny it and said that on one occasion he had come home with a broken nose and cuts on his body and had told her that he had fallen.