Man Found in Wheeling May Be Murder Suspect

WHEELING – Police in Alexandria, Va., are investigating whether Charles Standard Severance, arrested Thursday by Wheeling police on a Virginia warrant for being a felon in possession of a firearm, has any link to three murders committed in that city over the past 10 years.

Alexandria spokesman Craig Fifer said Severance has not been charged with any crime in that city. He did confirm, though, that police are looking into any possible connection between Severance and the three murders.

On Friday, Alexandria Mayor William Euille termed Severance a suspect in the unsolved murders, two of which happened in the past four months and the other in 2003.

Fifer clarified the mayor’s statement, noting he used “suspect” in more of a generic sense, and reiterated that Severance currently is not an official suspect.

Alexandria Police spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said Friday that police are “nowhere close to charging someone with murder” and declined to name the man as a suspect.

The arrest Thursday came after Wheeling police, acting on a tip from the FBI, located Severance while at the Ohio County Public Library.

Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger said his department received word from the FBI that Severance might be at the Knights Inn at 10th and Main streets.

“We found his car there, but he could not be located,” the chief said. “Our officers later found him at the Wheeling library.”

Magistrate Joe Roxby set bond at $100,000 this morning during a video arraignment.

“I want a lawyer,” Severance told Roxby. “I want to stay here. I want to fight extradition.”

Severance also told Roxby he was cold and asked whether he could wear his street clothes from the Wheeling Police Department because jail clothing was not warm enough.

A criminal warrant out of Loudoun County, Va., said Severance is wanted as a felon in possession of a firearm.

Published reports indicate Severance ran for Alexandria mayor in 1996 and 2000.

Alexandria Police said last week that ballistics evidence found links between last month’s unsolved shooting of music teacher Ruthanne Lodato and two other unsolved homicides – the November killing of transportation planner Ronald Kirby and the 2003 slaying of Nancy Dunning, wife of then-Sheriff James Dunning.

All three were prominent members of the Alexandria community, and all three were shot at the same time of day after answering a knock at their door or presenting themselves at the front door.

The ballistics evidence was not conclusive, though, and police say they are not certain that the cases are linked.

Severance is merely one lead among many they continue to pursue in the case, authorities emphasized.