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Five family members found dead in west metro home

Law enforcement vehicles and television satellite trucks jam the road near Channel Drive at the crime scene in Greenwood, the site of an apparent murder/suicide of a family of five in their home, on Thursday, September 10, 2015. (Scott Takushi | Pioneer Press)

By Sarah Horner, St. Paul Pioneer Press

GREENWOOD, Minn. -- Five family members — two adults and three children — were found dead in a home in a small, affluent Lake Minnetonka community Thursday in an apparent murder-suicide.

Police arrived at the house at 20975 Channel Drive in Greenwood at 12:21 p.m. to respond to a request for a welfare check after no one was seen or heard from in days, according to the South Lake Minnetonka Police Department.

The children had not been in school for the past two days, Interim Police Chief Mike Siitari said. The request to check on the family came from a co-worker of the father, he said.

Greenwood, with a population of 700, is located just east of Excelsior on the southern shore of the sprawling west metro lake.

Police said the deaths didn’t pose a threat to the community but declined to give further details, including the identities of the family members, the children’s ages and genders, and how they died.

The Hennepin County sheriff’s office was processing the “complex crime scene,” according to police.

“Obviously it’s an extremely tragic event and it’s going to take some time to sort through,” Siitari said.

Property records indicate the house is owned by Brian and Karen Short, and a statement posted on AllNurses.com, a website founded by Brian Short, identified the family as victims of the murder-suicide.

They bought the home in 2011 for about $2 million. Brian Short is 45. Karen Short is 48.

The couple has three children, including a 14-year-old daughter, a 15-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son.

Brian Short worked for several years as a nurse before founding AllNurses.com, a successful venture that provides nurses with an online platform to network and share ideas, according to the website.

It also attracted several advertisers interested in using the website to reach nurses.

As of spring 2014, the site had 4 million unique monthly visitors and more than 5,000 pages of content, Short told the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune in an interview.

At the time, he said, he had entertained more than 50 buyout offers for the website, all of which he declined, citing ideas he still had for the business. He described his career as “fulfilling.”

Radio traffic of the law enforcement response to the scene, archived by the Police Clips Facebook page, indicates the bodies of the family members were found both inside the house as well as in the garage.

One of the first officers to arrive can be heard describing a body he discovered in a bedroom. The body appeared to have suffered a “traumatic injury.”

After waiting for backup to arrive, police found three other family members in the basement. The fifth was located in the garage.

Aerial footage from KSTP-TV showed an upscale home. At the scene, police officers had sealed off Channel Drive, a wooded cul-de-sac leading toward St. Alban’s Bay on Lake Minnetonka.

Neighbors who share the small cul-de-sac with the family said they were stunned by the news.

Doug Plocek and his wife had just arrived home from lunch with their daughter when they saw police cars swarming their street, which includes just a handful of houses.

Initially blocked off from their own home, they went to a neighbor’s house and learned what had apparently happened to the Shorts.

“It’s just a horrible tragedy. Everybody is in shock,” Plocek said.

He and his wife have lived in their home for more than 20 years. A retired couple, Plocek said the Shorts and their teenage children were always friendly when they bumped into them on the street.

“They would always say hello. … Brian was always ready with his four-wheeler to help plow the snow in the winter,” he said. “They were good neighbors.”

Another neighbor who asked not to be named described the Shorts as a “normal,” “busy” family.

Home the night before the bodies were discovered, he said, he didn’t hear anything amiss from the Short house.

“I just feel terrible for the whole deal. … Everyone is just so sad and can’t believe it,” he said.

Brian Short’s Facebook page reveals interests in his family, nursing and wildlife around Lake Minnetonka.

Among the many photos posted on the social media site are pictures of the Shorts on vacation in Mexico last year, his daughter playing soccer and a birthday celebration for the family’s dog.

His last public post was May 24.

None of Brian Short’s family could be immediately reached for comment. Karen Short’s sister, Kelly Wilhelm, declined to comment.

(Jaime DeLage and Dan Bauman contributed to this report. The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum Communications Company, which includes the Echo Press.)

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