Police: Murder of Alexandria music teacher could be linked to tw - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Police: Murder of Alexandria music teacher could be linked to two others

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L-R: Ruthanne Lodato, Ron Kirby, Nancy Dunning L-R: Ruthanne Lodato, Ron Kirby, Nancy Dunning
Ruthanne Lodato Ruthanne Lodato
Alexandria police say the murder of a popular music teacher could be connected to two other murders that have taken place in the city over the course of the last 10 years.  Police Chief Earl Cook told reporters during a news conference on Thursday that forensic evidence indicates the three cases may be related, and they're now investigating the murders as a series of crimes.

Chief Cook said a link is not confirmed, and further investigation is still needed to learn if there is a definite connection. 

The news comes four weeks to the day since Ruthanne Lodato, a very popular Alexandria music teacher, was shot and killed in the doorway of her home as she answered the door.  Lodato lived on Ridge Road Drive in the Del Ray community. 

The connection between the Lodato, Nancy Dunning and Ron Kirby cases came up at a recent community meeting with authorities. 

Realtor Nancy Dunning, the longtime wife of former Alexandria Sheriff Jim Dunning, was murdered on the morning of December 5, 2003 in her home.  That morning, Mrs. Dunning had shopped at the Target store at nearby Potomac Yards.  Police released photos from a security video of a man in the store whom they wanted to question, but he has never been identified. 

Questions arose over whether the former sheriff may have been a suspect in his wife's death. He passed away in 2012.

Ron Kirby, a prominent transportation expert, was murdered in his home on Elm Street in Alexandria's Rosemont neighborhood last November. Police believe it happened sometime in the morning on Veterans Day.  Kirby was 69.  Since 1987, he had worked extensively on regional transportation issues for the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments (COG).  He was probably the foremost transportation expert in the D.C. region.

Chief Cook said evidence points to the Lodato case being connected to the murders of Ron Kirby and Nancy Dunning, also in Alexandria.  He said the weapon used in all three cases seems to be similar in design, but that some of the comparisons of the bullets used in the three cases were inconclusive.

Cook said it appears that in all three cases, the victims presented themselves at their door, though it's not known if the suspect knocked or rang the doorbell in all three cases.

Right now, Chief Cook says it is believed that a small caliber weapon has been used in all three murders.  He says they are not able to identify or eliminate that the bullets all came from the same weapon, so for now, they will continue to investigate.

Investigators do have a composite sketch of the suspect in the Lodato case, which has been posted around the community. Hundreds of tips have come in, and police continue to investigate them.

Cook says they will keep all of their options open in all three investigations.

Police are urging residents to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times.

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