A man wanted for questioning in connection with three unsolved murders appeared in court Tuesday in Loudoun County District Court in Leesburg, Virginia to face unrelated weapon possession charges relating to his possible felony status; he was extradited from West Virginia where he had been held in custody since his arrest on March 13th. Federal authorities and local police had been tracking Charles Severance (53) when they encountered him in a local library in West Virginia. Severance is a “person of interest” in connection with three murder cases occurring in Virginia. The matters relate to the murders of Nancy Dunning (a real estate agent) occurring in 2003; Ron Kirby (a regional transportation planner) in 2013; and, Ruthanne Lodato (a music teacher) in 2014. Police have not specified precisely why Severance is wanted for questioning in the murder cases. He was active in fringe politics and once a mayoral and congressional candidate in Virginia around ten years ago. His next scheduled appearance in Loudoun County is set for a preliminary hearing on June 8th. Severance is presumed to be innocent of all charges.
COMMENT: Virginia has a death penalty essentially providing a condemned inmate the choice of proceeding by lethal injection or electrocution, and if no choice is made, injection by default. The measures have been controversial since there has been a shortage of the chemicals used in lethal injections; the shortage has occurred in part because some makers of the product have, for ethical reasons, refused to supply the same. A recent measure by Virginia lawmakers to authorize the Director of Corrections in Virginia to authorize electrocution if injection chemicals were unavailable was recently tabled in a Senate Committee.
According to the Washingtonian.com. an Alexandria jury found Charles Severance guilty of three murders over an 11-year period, following three days of deliberations. Severance, 55, was convicted in the slayings of Nancy Dunning, Ron Kirby, and Ruthanne Lodato, along with the malicious wounding of a fourth victim who survived the incident during which Lodato was killed.