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Extradition hearing held on suspect in possible homicides

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A suspect has been arrested due to an anonymous tip and firearms possession for the murder of Ruthanne Lodato and possibly two other homicides in the Alexandria, Va. community.

The suspect, Charles Severance, 53, was found in Wheeling, West Va. at the Wheeling Library last week. Wheeling, a city in Ohio County, is located four and a half hours from Alexandria.

News sources in capturing the story have brought out segments of Severance’s history including previous arrests, his website, possible mental disorder and other personal business.

Washington, D.C.’s Newschannel 8 yesterday gave a caption of the courtroom hearing. The prosecutor asked the judge for the suspect to be held without bond which was originally set at $100,000 dollars. He also mentioned to the judge that Severance was a flight risk. Severance recently went to the Russian Embassy with his passport for asylum purposes but was turned away. The judge agreed with the prosecutor and Severance remains in confinement at the Northern Regional Jail.

Ruthanne Lodato was shot to death at her home on Feb. 6. Residents in the close-knit community have been fearful yet aggressive in trying to (help) find the killer, as well as the mayor and police chief of Alexandria.

A sketch was provided to the police given by a woman who was at the Lodato home the time of the shooting. The woman, described as a caretaker, was also shot but survived. Severance, the defendant, a white male with receding gray hair and a very long beard, sat motionless in the courtroom.

Severance has been labeled a “person of interest” and possible serial killer who may be linked to two other murders of the same veneer. Ronald Kirby, who was director of transportation planning at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, was shot at his home last November 11. Nancy Dunning, a real estate agent and wife of a sheriff, was shot at her home on December 5, 2003.

“Everybody is talking about it,” said Ellen Epstein, a local resident. “That’s the only thing. It’s really affected everyone but nobody knows the facts.”

Another hearing is scheduled for Severance tomorrow.

More on the suspect’s history can be found below.