Man arrested in W.Va. connected to Alexandria murders? - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Man arrested in W.Va. connected to Alexandria murders?

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Photo credit: West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority Photo credit: West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority
Charles Severance (L) was arrested in West Virginia on Thursday.  On the right is the sketch of the suspect in the most recent of three unsolved murders in Alexandria. Charles Severance (L) was arrested in West Virginia on Thursday. On the right is the sketch of the suspect in the most recent of three unsolved murders in Alexandria.

Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille tells FOX 5's Bob Barnard that a man arrested Thursday in West Virginia is a suspect in three unsolved murders that police said last week may be connected. Charles Severance is currently being held on $100,000 bond in Ohio County, West Virginia.

Police in Cumberland, Md. tell FOX 5 that last week, Alexandria police and the FBI told them to be on the look out for Severance. They say a fugitive warrant was issued for Severance, but they did not come in contact with him. Severance was arrested at a library in Ohio County Thursday afternoon, and he was arraigned in circuit court on Friday morning.

Sources at the Ohio County Library in West Virginia tell FOX 5 the FBI showed them a warrant out of Loudoun County for a man who was using a computer in the library. They say authorities came in around 2 p.m. Thursday and arrested Severance, and also removed the computer he had been using. 

Severance was staying at the Knights Inn in Wheeling, West Virginia, about seven blocks from the library. Hotel manager Anand Patel said Severance seemed like a normal tourist who asked about sightseeing locations in the town.

The Russian embassy in Northwest D.C. says a week ago, Severance showed up looking for asylum. Secret Service encountered him, but he didn't get any further than the sidewalk and wasn't charged.

In an interview with FOX 5's Bob Barnard, Mayor Euille said Severance is a suspect in all three cases. Euille says it's good news if Severance has any ties to the three unsolved murders in Alexandria, but there's still a lot to evaluate and investigate in the case. He tells FOX 5 Severance fits the description, but citizens are still encouraged to continue calling in any tips related to the case until police can say for sure that they have the right person in the case.


On Friday afternoon, the Alexandria Police Department released a statement saying they continue to investigate all three cases, and there have been no arrests or charges made in connection to them. They say Severance's name was brought to their attention during "routine analysis of crime tips," and further investigation revealed that he is a convicted felon who was in unlawful possession of firearms.

Alexandria police confirm Severance was arrested on a Loudoun County warrant for the weapons violation. They called it premature to name him as the only suspect in the investigations, and said they will only release information when it has been verified to be accurate.

Anyone with information in the three unsolved murders is asked to call APD's tip line at 703-746-6864 or email them at

According to election records, Severance ran for mayor of the city of Alexandria twice -- in 1996 and 2000. Kerry Donley defeated Severance in the race for mayor in both of those elections. He also ran for Congress against Jim Moran in 1996.

Cumberland police tell FOX 5 their last contact with Severance was when he was arrested in 2005 on an indecent exposure charge. He lived there at the time.

Last week, police said three murders that have happened over the last 10 years in Alexandria could be related.

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.

And most recently, popular music teacher Ruthanne Lodato 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.

Chief Earl Cook last week that said evidence points to the Lodato case being connected to murders of both Kirby Dunning. 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.

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, but they were continuing to investigate.


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