Man Wanted for Questioning in Three Murders Described as "Odd" | News
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- Charles Severance has a very public and very sorted history in Alexandria. The man who is awaiting extradition from West Virginia back to Alexandria for questioning in three unsolved murders - Ruthanne Lodato in February, Ron Kirby in November, Nancy Dunning a decade ago - ran for mayor of the city twice and U.S. Congress once.
His opponents in those campaigns remember a pretty "odd" character, as they put it, one who, at times, they actually saw as a physical threat.
When Severance challenged the incumbent Kerry Donley for Mayor of Alexandria in 1996 and 2000, the city manager and police chief at the time assigned an undercover cop to shadow and protect Donley.
"Just to make sure that everything was OK," recalled Donley. "They were concerned about this fellow."
The undercover cop was ultimately not needed. But perhaps Virginia Congressman Jim Moran could have used him during a debate when Severance challenged Moran for his congressional seat.
"I vividly recall one morning at the McLeanChamber of Commerce we had a debate," said Moran, (D) Virginia. "Right after we had pledged allegiance to the flag, Charles turned to the flag, pulled it out of the stand it was like this flag here," he continued, pointing to a standing flag in his office. "Then with the spear point rushed at me. I laughed at him and deflected it and then he turned and rushed the audience."
"To say he was bizarre is really doing kindness to the word bizarre," said Donley, the former mayor of the city. "Severance dressed in this black outfit - black gloves, sunglasses, black hat - and in response to any question that he got he would launch into this diatribe about juvenile mental health services and prescription psycho-tropic drugs. It was really a strange type of campaign. He really just came out of the woodwork."
Some are already connecting the dots, seeing the likeness between Severance and the suspect sketch in the Ruthanne Lodato murder.
"When I first saw the sketch it alerted me that this is someone that I have definitely seen and I have said as early as a week ago to folks that don't be surprised if the person we're looking for is someone we've all seen, someone we have a relationship with," said current Mayor Bill Euille.
While Severance may resemble the suspect sketch in the Ruthanne Lodato murder and has what many describe as a sketchy past that includes a felony, police stress that at this point, he is not a suspect in any of the three unsolved murders in the city. In fact, he's not even a person of interest. At this point, they simply want to question him.
"We don't use those types of terms. We will look into all possibilities regarding his possible connections to this crime but we're continuing to investigate the crimes on their own merits." said Crystal Nosal, Alexandria Police Department Spokesperson.
Not knowing, said Alexandria resident Tracy Washington Enger, has been difficult.
"Part of what has been so stressful for people, aside from the fact that it's horrible and that they were all wonderful people and it's a huge loss, but I think for the community and the neighborhood is the uncertainty, the unknowing, the persistent threat."