Three high-profile Alexandria murders could be connected, police announce

Alexandria Police say the killings of  Ruthanne Lodato, left, Nancy Dunning, and Ron Kirby, may be connected.

Alexandria Police say the killings of Ruthanne Lodato, left, Nancy Dunning, and Ron Kirby, may be connected.

The mysterious slaying of a beloved music teacher may be related to two other unsolved high-profile murders in Alexandria, police announced Thursday.

Lodato sketch

Police released this sketch after the fatal shooting of Ruthanne Lodato in Alexandria last month.

At a news conference, Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook said the bullets recovered at the crime scene of 59-year-old Ruthanne Lodato last month “exhibit the same general rifling class and characteristics and are similar in design to bullets fragments” found in the 2013 slaying of transportation executive Ronald Kirby and 2003 slaying of real estate agent Nancy Dunning. 

Cook could not say conclusively that the same weapon was used in all three shootings. It was not possible to identify or eliminate these bullets as having been fired from the same firearm, he said.

“The similarities and unusual nature of all three shootings occurring in Alexandria require the Police Department to consider the possibility that all cases are linked together,” Cook said.

All three were killed or found dead near the front doors of their homes. The shootings all occurred around 11:30 a.m.

Cook said the police are investigating the cases as though they are linked, but are not ruling out other possibilities.

Police have a composite sketch of the killer from witness statements in the Lodato case. He’s been described as a older white male, balding with a gray hair and a full beard. He was wearing a tan coat at the time of the attack.

Kirby, the longtime Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, was found fatally shot inside his Alexandria home in November.

Police believe that Dunning, the wife of former longtime Sheriff James Dunning, was shot to death December 2003 by someone she knew after returning from a shopping trip, where she had purchased Christmas gifts for a local charity.

Detectives are receiving assistance from state and federal agencies to pursue the cases as a series, yet at the same time keep all options open.

The Alexandria Police Department asks that anyone with information about a person with ties to any of these crimes or who may resemble the composite is asked to contact the Alexandria Police Department at 703.746.6864 or email [email protected].

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