After months of suspense, Alexandria police have finally charged Charles Severance in the murders of three well-known Alexandrians. Curiously, the prosecution will not seek the death penalty.
A grand jury indicted Severance for the murders of prominent realtor Nancy Dunning, wife of the former Alexandria sheriff, in a once-cold case dating to 2003; the November shooting of transportation planner Ron Kirby; and the February shooting of music teacher Ruthanne Lodato.
All three were gunned down in the foyer of their homes, within an area roughly one mile square. The murders shocked this small town, where few people locked their doors while they were home, as I described in an earlier post.
The death penalty absence is interesting. Virginia is not shy about it — there are currently nine convicts on death row and the state has executed 110 killers since it reinstated the ultimate penalty.
Police Chief Earl Cook said the death penalty is up to the prosecutor and he declined to describe a motive. Why these three victims, we hope to one day know. “I don’t know if it was targeted or not, because i can’t get into the mentality of Mr. Severance. The evidence may show something different,” Cook said.