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Murder manhunt suspect still at large

The manhunt continues in Alexandria, Va. for a suspect who gunned down Ruthanne Lodato, 59, last Thursday at her home. In an area where crime rate is low and neighborhoods are quiet, citizens are fearful; making sure their doors and windows are locked.

Last evening the North Ridge Citizens Association held a community meeting at the Beverly Hills Community United Methodist Church. According to the Washington Post, “a packed crowd of about 150 people” gathered looking for answers. The church is located at 3512 Old Dominion Road in Alexandria.

The report further stated that the following questions were asked by citizens –
Could the chief add any detail to the composite sketch of a suspect that police have released? Did the attacker say anything before opening fire? Was the same type of gun used to kill Lodato as was used in the November slaying of regional transportation planner Ronald Kirby, who lived about a mile away from Lodato?

More on the community meeting can be read below by Washington Post reporter Matt Zapotosky. He also gave a synopsis of the Lodato murder that was seen this morning on Newschannel 8’s NewsTalk (view video on the left).

Sources suggest there may be a possible link to Lodato’s murder with two previous murders in Alexandria. The FBI has now stepped in to investigate even though Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook has received many tips and a sketch has been drawn describing the suspect.

Some also think a serial killer is on the loose who carefully picks his victims. The other two murders were prominent members in the Alexandria community that have not been solved. One is Nancy Dunning, a real estate agent who was the wife of a sheriff. She was found shot to death on December 5, 2003 in her home. Her sheriff husband died last year. A $100,000 reward still awaits for information leading to an arrest.

The other victim was Ronald Kirby, who was shot several times at his home last November 11. Kirby was the director of transportation planning at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

All three homicides occurred closely within range of the area; with Kirby estimated about a mile while Dunning’s was two miles away.

ABC News reported this from a former FBI agent –

Former FBI agent Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant, said residents should be cautious, making sure they have a way to check the front door without answering, using a side window or other means to check on visitors.

He also wondered if the victims share anything in common, such as a church or social organization.

Garrett said it's possible the same person is responsible for all three murders.

“When you’re dealing with somebody, if this is one person, this is a very troubled person. And they can go dormant for a while before they reactivate,” Garrett said.

“So is it conceivable that one guy did all three of these? And the answer is yes.”

Alexandria citizens of the Ridge Road area community should treat this case with patience. The Alexandria mayor and police chief want this killing to be resolved. The killer no doubt may be hiding, on the run and or may have changed his description. Lodato’s murder obviously has affected the community, due to the positive impression she left on people.

"She was a nice lady. I feel really sad for her family," Amy Barker said, whose three children took music lessons from Lodato. Now, like many of her neighbors, she is nervous.

"I've been nervous and we got a new peephole as I'm sure lot of people have. I feel anxious about it," Barker added.

More can be read on the Lobato murder at:

"Dreadful shame that something like this would happen to a very loving woman," Vernal Timmons said. "They ought to pick up any one who resembles this," (Timmons continued) as he brushed his balding, gray head. He said he was just "cleared" by police as reported by Washington news station WUSA9.

The sketch of the suspect is described as an elderly white male; bearded and balding.

Citizens can call Alexandria police at (703) 746-6864 for any tips and remain anonymous.

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