A month later, no clues in Ronald Kirby’s slaying

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated Anne Haynes’s age as 71. She is 67. This version has been corrected.


Ron Kirby and Anne Haynes on their wedding day, May 2012. (Photo by Steve Tisara/Tisara Photo )
December 28, 2013

Anne Haynes has been thinking about going solo on the trip she and her husband planned to take to Antarctica in January. The books she’s been reading on grief say it’s good to get away.

She’s been reading poetry, too, a reminder of the love poems she and Ronald Kirby read to each other early in their romance. She wants to hold on to everything about him — she even hopes police eventually will be able to return the clothes, glasses and shoes he wore the day he was killed.

“I’ve lost the love of my life. I’ve lost my life’s companion,” said Haynes, 67. “I have my memories, but that’s all I have. I loved Ron, right down to his little feet.”

It has been more than a month since Kirby, 69, the longtime director of transportation planning at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, was fatally shot in his Alexandria home. Haynes and others close to him are struggling to move on without any answers.

Alexandria police have twice made appeals to the public for information in the unsolved
case, most recently announcing a
reward fund.

“Everybody’s looking for answers and more information. To get closure on Ron’s tragic death, people want the mystery solved,” said Robert Griffiths, a colleague at the Council of Governments.

Haynes said she last spoke with her husband about 11 a.m. Nov. 11 when she called to ask for directions to a place where she was volunteering.

At 12:30 p.m., she said, his son found Kirby, glasses in his hand, shot multiple times with an automatic weapon.

There was no sign of a break-in on that Veterans Day morning, police have said, and Haynes said nothing was stolen. She said she knew of nothing amiss in her husband’s life.

“Nobody heard anything,” she said. “Nobody saw anything.”

Alexandria Police Chief Earl L. Cook said in a Dec. 17 news conference that detectives think the killing was a “deliberate act,” and police have said neighbors should not be concerned about their safety.

Reports of violent crime in Kirby’s quiet, leafy Rosemont neighborhood are rare.

On a weekday morning in August in the neighborhood, a woman was forced from her car at gunpoint, robbed and assaulted. Two years ago, a woman was grabbed from behind in the area on her way home from work. Car and home burglaries are more common; police have said many occur when residents leave their doors unlocked.

Cook has said that Kirby traveled across the region and the country for his transportation policy work and that people he made contact with might be able to shed light on his killing. Police have asked that anyone who has information about him come forward.

Like many others, Jim McKenzie, the executive director of central Arkansas’s Metroplan, said he could not imagine who would want to hurt Kirby, who worked for the Council of Governments for more than 25 years and was the father of two grown children.

“Ron is such a level personality and was so good at bringing people together that I really can’t imagine that anyone he dealt with through his work would have any animosity toward him,” McKenzie said.

He last saw Kirby in October at a planning conference in Portland, Ore.

It was metropolitan planning that brought Haynes and Kirby together about two decades ago. The Woodrow Wilson Bridge was being expanded over Jones Point Park, a historic spot in Alexandria, and Haynes was on the city’s parks committee. She found herself sitting behind Kirby, who was helping steer the project to completion, at a Council of Governments vote.

“He turned around and looked at me, and I thought, ‘What a handsome man,’ ” Haynes said. They were both married at the time.

But within the next few years, each had divorced. It was a Christmas card that brought them back together, on which Haynes wrote, “So near, and yet so far.” He called, and they reconnected.

Haynes soon moved to an apartment on Kirby’s street. They eventually moved in together, in the house that they picked out on Elm Street and that she remade into their home. But it was only a little over a year ago that they wed. They took dance lessons; he wrote her love notes.

Recently, she discovered that he had kept a list she wrote him in 2004: “Reasons to get married.”

“I was really lucky, the 13 years I had with him. It was heaven,” Haynes said. “This feels like hell.”

Haynes said she wants to put a photo of Kirby in every room of the house, “so I can say ‘Good morning’ and ‘Good night.’ ”

Long an advocate for gun regulation, she said she feels even more dedicated to the cause since her husband’s death: “You don’t need an assault weapon to kill a rabbit.”

Mostly though, she’s just sad.

At a recent news conference, she said she would “sure like to know what happened” to her husband.

But when asked by reporters if knowing who killed him would help her heal, she said only, “Nothing would bring Ron back,” and walked away.

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Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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