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Family, Friends Gather To Remember

Vigil for Nancy Dunning held in Del Ray.

It has been six months since Nancy Dunning, a well-known realtor and the wife of Alexandria sheriff Jim Dunning, was murdered and police are still searching for answers.

Dunning was found dead in her Del Ray home on Dec. 5, 2003. The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the upper body. There have been no arrests.

More than 100 neighbors, family members and friends held a candlelight vigil in Nancy Dunning’s honor last Saturday night. They met at the Del Ray Farmer’s Market and marched in the rain to Mt. Vernon Community School where there was a brief program.

“We wanted everyone to know that we haven’t forgotten about Nancy,” said Gayle Reuter, a friend and neighbor and one of the organizers of the vigil. “It has been six months but it is important for us to let Nancy’s family know that we are here for them and that we are not going to forget her vital role in our community.”

“It’s very apparent that Nancy Dunning’s friends, family and neighbors are committed to getting justice for her,” said Alexandria police chief Charles Samarra. “For the police department, it’s our number one priority, too. This case is not an easy one and there are many aspects that we cannot discuss publicly. What I can tell you is that this is a very active investigation. We continue to make progress, though we have not yet identified a suspect.

"We have conducted dozens of interviews. We continue to work all possible leads. From physical evidence to tips from the public, every possible lead is being thoroughly investigated.

“Six months later, we still believe that Mrs. Dunning was targeted. That may be difficult to believe, especially for people who knew her. Someone close to Mrs. Dunning may have important information. We hope they will think very hard and try to recall an event or a conversation that might be significant to our investigation. And we hope they will contact our detectives," said Samarra.

“We are very grateful for the tremendous support from the Nancy Dunning Reward Fund, the Del Ray Citizens Association and the Potomac West Business Association. They have done so much — from raising reward money to keeping Nancy Dunning’s memory vivid in everyone’s mind — and the police department is truly appreciative of their efforts and support. The Del Ray that has come to our aid is the Del Ray that Nancy Dunning treasured so much,” the chief said.

LONNIE RICH led the effort to establish a reward fund. That fund has been capped at $100,000 but there is some effort to collect additional money for some type of a memorial to Nancy Dunning.

“We really haven’t gotten into specifics about what type of a memorial we might want,” Rich said. “We will let the reward fund stay intact for some time until it becomes clear that it is not needed. At that time, we will contact those who have contributed and offer several options for what to do with the money, including returning their contribution to them. For now, we will wait and see.”

As for the murder case itself, Rich said, “It’s perplexing. Clearly the police believe that someone close to Nancy knows something that could solve her murder. I believe that there are two people in the world who know what happened — the person who killed her and the person who wanted her killed.

“We may never know what happened or we may not know until one of those two people is drunk and says too much or wants to trade information because of some trouble that that person might be having. We must trust our law enforcement personnel to do their jobs,” he said.

Anyone with information about this case should contact the Alexandria Police Department at 703-838-4711.