On December 5, 2003, prominent Alexandria resident Nancy Dunning was found deceased in her homefrom multiple gunshot wounds. Nancy was a well-known real estate agent and wife of then Alexandria Sheriff, Jim Dunning.
Nancy Dunning’s death was a shock to the Alexandria community. Her family, friends and concerned business owners gathered a substantial reward for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of her killer. At the time, Alexandria Police Department detectives conducted a detailed investigation. The investigation, unfortunately, did not result in an arrest.
The Police Department actively investigated the Nancy Dunning homicide for 11 years. The Department used numerous experienced detectives and external agencies not originally involved in the case to review Mrs. Dunning's death.
In February 2014, the Police Department received forensic reports from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Forensic Science regarding the recent homicide of Ruthanne Lodato in comparison to evidence collected in previous homicides.
Analysis shows that, “the items (bullets) exhibit the same general rifling class and characteristics and are similar in design to evidence (bullets) submitted in both Kirby and Dunning cases. However, the results of the microscopic comparisons were inconclusive. It was not possible to identity or eliminate these bullets as having been fired from the same firearm.”
As a result, the Police Department felt there were enough similarities between the bullets in the homicide investigations of Nancy Dunning (2003), Ron Kirby (2013), and Ruthanne Lodato (2014) to link the crimes together.
On September 8, 2014, the Alexandria Police Department charged Charles Severance in the homicides of Nancy Dunning, Ruthanne Lodato, and Ron Kirby.
He was indicted on the following charges related to the three investigations:
• Nancy Dunning Case: First Degree Murder and Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony
• Ron Kirby Case: Capital Murder, Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony, Possession of a Firearm by a Felon
• Ruthanne Lodato Case: Capital Murder, two counts of Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony, Possession of a Firearm by a Felon, and Malicious Wounding
This has been a complex and time-consuming investigation. The Alexandria Police Department would like to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Virginia State Police, and area law enforcement agencies for their assistance.