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Triple murders of serial killer Charles Severance investigated on See No Evil

Mugshot of Charles Severance
Charles Severance will spend the rest of his life in prison. Pic credit: VA Dept. of Corrections

See No Evil is investigating the shocking crimes of Charles Severance, who murdered Nancy Dunning, Ronald Kirby, and Ruthanne Lodato in three shocking murders that spanned 2003 until 2014.

Severance seemingly chose his victims at random; he would knock on a house’s front door and shoot whoever answered. He always used a .22 caliber firearm.

The random killings took place in Alexandria, Virginia, and are generally thought to have been triggered by Severance’s sense of injustice at losing out on a custody battle. Severance had also ran twice for mayor of Alexandria and once for congress; each time, he failed miserably, and this may have helped him foster a hatred for the town’s so-called elites.

The first murder took place on December 5, 2003; his victim was real estate agent Nancy Dunning. She was married to James Dunning, who had been sheriff of the town since 1985. Nancy’s remains were discovered by her husband and their son.

Severance’s second victim was a regional transportation planner called Ronald Kirby on November 11, 2013. Like Dunning, Kirby was found at his home with gunshot wounds to his chest. There was no sign of forced entry, and nothing had been stolen.

The third victim was music teacher Ruthanne Lodato in February 2014; she was the daughter of a district judge. Janet Franko had been a caretaker for Lodato’s mother, and she was wounded in the attack.

Charles Severance finally caught when spotted by witnesses

Franko later told the police that she heard the doorbell, followed by a loud boom when Lodato answered. Crucially, she also caught a glimpse of the killer, whose description matched Severance.

The cops also came across another witness who described seeing an individual near the Kirby murder that looked very similar to Severance. It was at this time that the cops linked the three killings and began to focus their investigation on Severance.

The killer was living with his girlfriend Linda Robra, who then told the police that Severance had openly spoken about killing judges, police officers, and their families. She also admitted he had access to a .22 caliber firearm.

In the meantime, Severance went to the Russian Embassy, seemingly, in an attempt to claim asylum. He was approached by secret service agents whom he informed that “he had been persecuted by the City of Alexandria for the last dozen years” and the police “were trying to get revenge on him for running for mayor.”

On March 13, 2014, Severance was finally arrested in Wheeling, WV. He appeared to be trying to flee the country.

Severance was ultimately found guilty of the murders of Nancy Dunning, Ronald Kirby, and Ruthanne Lodato and was sentenced to life in prison plus 48 years.

More from See No Evil

Follow the links to read about more murders profiled in See No Evil.

Eric Ellington, Wayne Williams, and Dylan McFarlane attacked a young couple, Julian Soler and Kennia Duran, at a gas station in Miami Gardens, Florida, murdering them both in cold blood.

Dawn Meade was in an abusive relationship with Gregory Veres, and when she tried to get a restraining order, he began arguing with her. After Meade started walking home, Veres ran over her in his grandma’s car. Her remains were found by a neighbor the following day.

See No Evil airs Wednesday at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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