Charles Severance to stand trial in October on gun charge

He remains a ‘primary focus’ in three Alexandria homicides


Charles Severance, a “person of interest” in three Alexandria killings, will face trial this fall on an unrelated gun charge out of Loudoun County. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Alexandria police still have yet to label him a “suspect” in three homicides, but the man they say is the focus of their investigation will face trial this fall on an unrelated gun charge out of Loudoun County.

Charles Severance, 53, was indicted by a Loudoun grand jury Monday on a single count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. A date was set Tuesday for Oct. 27 for the trial, which is expected to last two days.

It was Severance’s first appearance in Loudoun Circuit Court. At a preliminary district court hearing in June, Severance’s girlfriend Linda Robra testified that he encouraged her to buy two .22-caliber revolvers for her own protection and showed her how to load them.

Shortly after that hearing, police in Alexandria announced that Severance was the “primary focus” of their investigation into the slayings of Nancy Dunning in 2003, Ronald Kirby in 2013 and Ruthanne Lodato in February. While he is not a “suspect,” Police Chief Earl Cook said in an interview that he is “more that than not that.”

Cook said a tip led the police to Severance, who then fled when an officer attempted to contact him. He was arrested in Wheeling, W.Va., a few days later, where an FBI agent has testified that a gun-cleaning kit was found in his car.

Two .22-caliber shells were also found in Robra’s garage during a search, an Alexandria police officer has testified, but no evidence has linked them to Severance.

Defense attorneys for Severance in both Wheeling and Loudoun have argued that the gun charge against him is weak and that he has been falsely labeled a possible murderer by public officials.

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Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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