Alexandria. Va. citizens may be breathing a sigh of relief now that a “person of interest” has been detained in jail as a suspect for Ruthanne Lodato’s murder, but the question remains whether the man detained actually committed the crime.
Charles Severance, 53, was arrested last month in Wheeling, W.V. at the Wheeling Library as a possible suspect due to a tip. He has a previous police record and has been described as a man with odd behavior. Severance was charged with a firearms violation. But Alexandria police admitted he has not been charged with murder despite him being held without bond.
Chief Public Defender Shayne Welling believes the case is a “sham” and called action toward Severance "irrelevant, reckless, unsupported and premature." The Intelligencer.net (Wheeling News-Register) stated a motion Welling wrote which contained this –
"Respondent was unconditionally denied prompt presentment to a judicial officer following his arrest," Welling's motion states.
Welling also writes that the court "must begin its inquiry into the State's passion-laced motion" by determining whether the case being heard in Ohio County deals with a fugitive from justice being held on a non-violent possession charge, or whether the warrant is being used instead to detain Severance in order to investigate the deaths.
He said Severance should only face extradition for the low-level Class Six felony, and the bond should reflect that.
However, if the warrant is intended to allow investigation into other matters, the extradition must be dismissed as improper.
"While abusing authority may be appropriate in the Commonwealth, West Virginia does not sanction the abuse of police powers," Welling wrote. "The use of the arrest power as a sham to apprehend a person for purposes for further investigation on another charge is so dangerous an intrusion of privacy as to require exclusion of any evidence seized as an incident of such pretextual arrest."
He said he theorizes that Smith's "reliance upon speculation, hype and conjecture to support his motion offers the best evidence the firearms warrant is a fraud designed to deprive the respondent of his liberty interests in order to buy the Commonwealth time to investigate other matters. West Virginia must avoid colluding with the Commonwealth on such an obvious sham arrests."
The death of Ruthanne Lodato being killed at her door has caused a furor in the close-knit Alexandria community where she lived. Lodato was also a very popular music teacher, so it is understandable her killer be found – that being the right one.
The much-hyped murder has also brought about two other killings that occurred the same way in the same area. The other two victims, Ronald Kirby and Nancy Dunning – their cases have not been solved and due to the similarity police believe there may be linkage to the murders.
An order of extradition was placed on Severance in court today. Judge James P. Mazzone in Wheeling decided Severance could go back to Virginia due to a gun charge in Loudoun County even though the case is unrelated to the charge.
More on this story from the Washington Post can be viewed below.
Washington, D.C. news sources also revealed police and the FBI did a pond investigation in Oakton. Va. two weeks ago in relation to the Lodato case. It was reported relatives of Severance owned a home in the area. The video on the investigation is below.
The City of Alexandria continues its stance in honoring its beloved citizen, Ruthanne Lodato, by asking for public comment in naming a playground after her. The Washington Post stated in their Arlington-Alexandria news-in-brief the following –
The Kelley Cares Foundation, in which Lodato was an active participant and the Miracle League of Alexandria received a grant from CVS Caremark in February to build the playground to be accessible to children of all abilities.
The playground’s name, if accepted, will be called the Ruthanne Lodato Memorial Playground. It will be part of the Nannie J. Lee Memorial Recreation Center that will open this fall.
Go to www.alexandriava.gov. for more information. Deadline for comments is May 2.