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Alexandria police chief: Lodato, Dunning, Kirby murder cases may be linked | News

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Alexandria police chief: Lodato, Dunning, Kirby murder cases may be linked
Alexandria police chief: Lodato, Dunning, Kirby murder cases may be linked

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- At a press conference on Thursday regarding the murder of Alexandria music teacher Ruthanne Lodato, Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook said the murders of Lodato, Nancy Dunning and Ron Kirby appear to be linked.

According to Cook, the bullets recovered in the Lodato, Dunning and Kirby shooting cases are similar. Bullets recovered from the Lodato case exhibit the same general rifling class as the unsolved Kirby murder, but that the same weapon may not have been used in the shootings. Officials say that other microscopic comparisons are inconclusive.

Due to the similarities and unusual nature of all three shootings occurring in the Alexandria area, police are considering the possibility that all three cases are connected.

Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook is putting people on alert to be careful. "I hope they look before they open the door. Know who's visiting your home," Cook said.

Cook said a small caliber weapon was used in all three murders but that they could not say anything specific about the weapon. Cook adds that police have bullet fragments and nothing intact.

Police have not made any connection between the victims in all three cases. However, all three of the victims were well-known. They were shot in their homes near their front doors in the morning hours between 10:50 a.m. and 12:00 noon. And, they lived within two square miles of each other. Police are looking for any other similarities and possible connection to a suspect.

Ruthanne Lodato, 59, was shot to death on her doorstep last month. Ron Kirby was killed in November 2013. Nancy Dunning, wife of the former Alexandria Sheriff, was killed in 2003.

911 call released in Alexandria murder

The caretaker for Ruthanne Lodato's elderly mother was also shot. She was hospitalized but has since been released. She saw the suspect and has given police the description for the sketch, which depicts an older white man with a full beard.

Police have nothing to indicate that the suspect lives in Alexandria, said Cook on Thursday.

The Chief is asking anyone who might remember someone resembling the sketch who was connected to any of the murders victims, to call police.

There is surprise that the 10-year-old Dunning case might be linked with these recent killings. Nancy Dunning's husband Jim Dunning who was the Sheriff, was a suspect in her murder. He died two years ago but two of his family members were at the news conference today.They have been angry over the investigation's focus on Dunning.

Police Chief Cook when asked whether he regrets the investigation of Jim Dunning as a suspect said "We don't eliminate anyone as a suspect until there's an arrest."

Police are asking anyone with information to call detectives at 703-746-6864.