News & Politics

Alexandria Charges Charles Severance With Three Murders Spanning 11 Years

Severance is accused of killing regional transportation chief Ron Kirby and two other Alexandria residents.

Charles Severance. Photograph via West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Authority.

Prosecutors in Alexandria filed homicide charges Monday against Charles Severance in connection with three murders carried out over an 11-year span. Severance, who is currently in a Loudoun County jail awaiting trial on a gun charge, is suspected of entering the home of music teacher Ruthanne Lodato on February 6 and shooting her fatally.

Lodato’s murder bore similarities to the slaying last November of Ron Kirby, director of transportation planning for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and in 2003 of Nancy Dunning, wife of former Alexandria Sheriff Jim Dunning.

The Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney is charging Severance with 10 counts, but will not seek the death penalty.

Alexandria Police started looking for connections between the three killings in March, a few weeks after Lodato’s death. Severance became a suspect while in custody in West Virginia, where he was arrested on an unrelated weapons count issued by Loudoun County. Severance was arrested in 1997 and 2005 on Virginia gun charges, and as a convicted felon, is prohibited by state and federal law from possessing a gun. A former Alexandria resident, Severance, 53, ran for mayor unsuccessfully in 1996 and 2000.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.