January 9, 1999
Manhattan, New York
Ronald Short (pictured, center) kills his two sons with a foot-long hammer-headed hatchet
On January 9, Ronald and his wife Yolanta argued culminating with Ronald slapping Yolanta. Yolanta left their apartment, threatening to leave him and take their children with her. When she returned to their home, her husband and children were gone.
Ronald took his boys to a hidden coal room in one of the apartment buildings he managed, accessible only by a small door. There, he killed both boys. Richard (7) died from “multiple chop wounds” from a hatchet to his neck and head. (Ronald later admitted he only stopped chopping his son’s body “when his arms began to hurt.”) Richard’s brother, 3-year-old John, was killed by crushing blows to his skull from the hammer end of the tool. The battered bodies of both boys were placed on a shelf and the entrance to the room was disguised with “rubble.”
Initially, Ronald informed his wife the boys were safe and with relatives, though Yolanta grew increasingly concerned and reported the boys missing on January 13. Ronald was questioned by police regarding the boys’ whereabouts and, when he refused to answer, he was charged with endangering the welfare of children on January 15.
Investigators began their search for the boys in properties owned and operated by Ronald. The boys’ decomposing bodies were found on January 23 during a secondary search of the apartment building, in the coal room described as a “secret cellar room.” Their bodies were transported from the scene in a single body bag. Ronald told police he murdered the boys when their mother threatened to take the children and he feared Yolanta, a Polish immigrant, would move the boys out of the country.
In 2001, Ronald pleaded guilty to the murders and was sentenced to two consecutive life terms.
Ross, Barbara. “Judge gives dad double life terms in sons’ murders.” Daily News [New York, New York]. May 10, 2011
Ross, Barbara. “Dad surprises with guilty plea in sons slay.” Daily News. April 10, 2011
Harpaz, Beth J. “Vicious beatings killed kids.” The Courier-News [Bridgewater, New Jersey]. January 25, 1999
Mbugua, Martin, McQuillan, Alice, and Goldiner, Dave. “Cops grill dad in boys slay.” Daily News. January 25, 1999
Donohue, Pete, McQuillan, Alice, and Hutchinson, Bill. “Brothers were butchered.” Daily News. January 25, 1999