Charles Severance indicted by grand jury on gun charge

The man Alexandria police are focused on in their probe of three high-profile homicides has been indicted on a gun charge in Loudoun County.

A grand jury on Monday found cause to believe that Charles Severance, 53, illegally possessed two handguns as a convicted felon. His case will now go to circuit court.

Severance was known in Alexandria years ago as a political gadfly and board game aficionado. After the murder of Ruthanne Lodato in February, police have said they were tipped off that he resembled a sketch made by a caregiver who survived the attack.

Severance left Virginia after he was approached by police, leading police to hone in on him, and was picked up several days later in Wheeling, W.Va. Alexandria Police Chief Earl L. Cook confirmed earlier last month that now Severance is the focus not just in Lodato’s death, but the killings of Nancy Dunning in 2003 and Ronald Kirby in 2013.

For now, however, Severance faces only the Loudoun gun charge, which stems from a 2005 conviction for carrying a concealed weapon in Rockingham County. Should he be convicted, he would face a mandatory minimum sentence of two years.

The woman Severance lived with until he left Virginia, Linda Robra, testified last month that he encouraged her to buy two .22-caliber handguns and showed her how to load them. The guns were not found when police searched the house, and Robra said she was not sure when she had last seen them. An FBI agent testified that a gun-cleaning kit, along with many other personal items, was found in Severance’s car after his arrest.

Defense attorney Ed Ungvarsky argued in court that Severance left because Robra asked him to, not to flee authorities. Prosecutors were stretching “woefully weak” evidence to justify the case against Severance, he contended, against the backdrop of “false accusations in Alexandria.”

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Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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