Virginia man found guilty in three murders over 11-year span

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 02, 2015 2:21 PM

By John Clarke

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former Virginia political candidate was convicted on Monday of three murders over an 11-year span that fed fears of a serial killer in the U.S. capital area.

Charles Severance, 55, was found guilty by a Fairfax County Circuit Court jury after testimony from more than 100 witnesses, a court spokeswoman said.

Severance had been charged with the 2003 killing of Alexandria real estate agent Nancy Dunning, the 2013 shooting of regional transportation planner Ronald Kirby and the 2014 slaying of music teacher Ruthanne Lodato.

Prosecutors said Severance shot his victims as revenge

against what he perceived as the ruling class in Alexandria, a Washington suburb, after losing a child custody case.

Severance was charged with 10 counts of murder, wounding and firearms violations. He faces three life sentences.

The murders were at the victims' homes in an upscale Alexandria neighborhood. The seemingly random killings caused alarm that a serial killer might be at large in the Washington area.

"Introduce murder into a safe and secure neighborhood,” Severance said in writings used as evidence during the trial. "Do it again. And again. And again."

Severance lived in Alexandria in the 1990s and the early 2000s and ran for mayor and Congress. He sometimes wore a tricorn hat, was known for ranting in public and once threw a punch at the organizer of a mayoral debate.

(Reporting by John Clarke; Editing by Ian Simpson and Lisa Von Ahn)