Severance to return to Virginia


By Erich Wagner (File photo)

The man linked in media reports and by West Virginia prosecutors to three unsolved killings in Alexandria will soon return to Virginia after the state Supreme Court denied his request for a delay in extradition.

Charles Severance, 53, a former city resident and fringe mayoral candidate, will be taken into Loudoun County sheriff’s office custody within the next 10 days. Severance was arrested in Wheeling, W. Va. in March on a gun charge stemming from the Virginia County.

Prosecutors in Wheeling said in extradition hearings that Severance is a suspect in the slayings of Ruthanne Lodato in February, Ronald Kirby in November and Nancy Dunning in 2003. City police repeatedly have said that Severance is not yet a suspect, but that they will investigate him as they would any other lead.

Police spokeswoman Crystal Nosal declined to say whether local detectives have interviewed Severance, either in the past or since his arrest.

Severance’s public defender in West Virginia reportedly called the Loudoun County warrant a sham, designed to keep his client in Virginia while investigators probe whether he had a role in the slayings.

But prosecutors argued that Alexandria police are capable of investigating Severance with or without him in the region. Police can interview anyone, anywhere, provided that the person consents.

The daytime killings of Kirby and Lodato in their homes shook residents’ sense of security, with many locking their doors and refusing to answer for strangers.
In March, police announced that they would be investigating the crimes, along with the Dunning murder, as possibly linked.

Ballistics testing confirmed bullet fragments in all three murders had similar rifling characteristics and that they all were fired from a small caliber weapon, authorites said. But those tests were not conclusive in determining whether the crimes were committed using the same gun.