Suspect in Va. Killings Awaits Word in Extradition

WHEELING – A judge on Monday ordered Charles Stanard Severance, suspected in a series of killings in Alexandria, Va., held without bond as he waits to learn whether he will be extradited to Virginia to answer a felony gun charge.

Bond had been set at $100,000 for Severance, 53, arrested Thursday while using a computer at the Ohio County Public Library on a warrant charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Severance has not been charged with a crime in Alexandria, but Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith – publicly connecting Severance with the Virginia murders for the first time – argued there are “extenuating circumstances” that warrant keeping Severance behind bars.

“He is being investigated in the deaths of three people being shot to death. He has no ties here and there are two firearms not accounted for. He was the last person to have access (to) or possession of those firearms,” Smith said.

The Alexandria murders are the 2003 slaying of real estate agent and sheriff’s wife Nancy Dunning, the November 2013 shooting of transportation planner Ronald Kirby and, most recently, the Feb. 6 murder of music teacher Ruthanne Lodato. Officials reportedly have not determined conclusively one person committed all three shootings, but they are looking at them as a series of crimes.

Public Defender Shayne Welling said Severance would challenge extradition to Virginia. Welling said he also planned to file a motion concerning Severance’s bond, which he termed “excessive.”

During Monday’s court appearance, Mazzone began by asking Severance his name. Handcuffed and dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, Severance spoke to several people in the courtroom prior to the start of the hearing, but did not answer the judge.

Smith showed the court Secret Service surveillance photographs that depict Severance standing in front of the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C., holding his passport, in an attempt to seek asylum after learning Virginia officials were looking for him.

Severance has a lengthy arrest record including assault and various misdemeanor charges. Records show Severance also ran for mayor of Alexandria, Va., in 1996 and 2000, losing each time, and he also ran once for Congress.

Mazzone scheduled a bond hearing for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. He also set a status hearing regarding extradition and the governor’s warrant from Virginia for 10 a.m. March 31.

Severance had been staying at the Knights Inn at 10th and Main streets in Wheeling, local authorities said. Wheeling police were acting on a tip from the FBI when they arrested him Thursday at the library.