Murder Cases Get Colder

Murder Cases Get Colder

Still Counting

  • Ruthanne Lodato, unsolved murder, 48 days.
  • Ronald Kirby, unsolved murder, 161 days.
  • Nancy Dunning, unsolved murder, 3,771 days.

Alexandria Police Tip Line: 703-746-4444.

— There’s no time like the present. Those hoping for quick solutions to the recent Alexandria murders now will just have to wait. For how long? Not even police investigators can provide any progress reports or answers, at least not this week or in the foreseeable future.

What may seem to be a police blackout is not that at all.

All the excitement that a possible “person of interest,” not officially a police portrayal, or a real “suspect,” the preferred description, appears to have vanished into thin air.

Remember reports that a former independent mayoral candidate, Charles R. Severance, had been captured in Wheeling, W.Va. The broadcast media and newspaper reporters jumped on the story full blast. Former neighbors and political figures were subjects of interviews with eye-opening recollections.

Seeing Mr. Severance in the West Virginia courtroom was exciting for the community and brought some rest to the city. There he was, aged 53, disheveled and unkempt, long stringy grayish hair. The only charge he’s seriously facing at present involves a gun warrant from Loudoun County. Bond was then set at $100,000. There was no immediate mention of murder or murders.

A few days later, despite his opposition of returning to Virginia, Severance’s bond was reset at no bond because the prosecutor informed the court he was wanted in connection with three murders. A governor’s warrant was issued in Richmond.

Alexandria’s detectives do indeed want to talk with him. They may have had a conversation or two in the out-of-state jail. No reports of this come from headquarters. Still no charges, no holds on him if and when he’s returned to the Old Dominion.

Severance has been labelled as odd or peculiar. He may even have a grudge against the city’s judicial system. He may even be considered mentally ill. That’s not known up to this point.

Facts remain: a police sketch and the jail mug shot apparently have little resemblance.

Other facts are this: three well-liked, well-known solid citizens and family leaders are murder victims. The cases seem to be ice cold as far as the public may think. Police say, and they probably have to, “there’s no reason for us to call any of these cases cold.” The reason from law enforcement perspectives: “They are being actively investigated.”

Mrs. Ruthanne Lodato was fatally shot after opening a front door on Feb. 5.

Dr. Ronald Kirby was fatally shot in his home on Nov. 11.

Mrs. Nancy Dunning was found fatally shot in her home, Dec. 5, 2003.

City police are keeping mum on all the cases, particularly the Lodato case. There are no updates either regarding Dr Kirby’s death.

The murders occurred in the Rosemont area. The shootings were at similar times, before noon. All were shot with similar small caliber bullets. The latter from the state forensic laboratory.

Doors are still being locked and opened carefully.

People waiting for the latest on either one or all of the cases won’t be hearing any news.

Crystal Nosal, police information officer, says bluntly, “we will not send out ‘updates’ unless we have new information to release.” Be assured, news purveyors are on the job.

Unless some creative television producer or a determined still photographer with an inside contact at the Ohio Valley County, W.Va., jail, chances are not too good the public will see Severance traveling with Loudoun County deputies.

If Severance is considered “off the bubble,” chances are good he will never be charged.

Authorities in Alexandria continue to play the cases close to their vest. They do admit there may be a serial killer on the loose. They keep looking and looking.