A man who was bitter over the loss of a child custody battle has been found guilty of murdering three people at random in a period stretching just over a decade.
Nancy Dunning, Ron Kirby, and Ruthanne Lodato, were all shot inside their own homes by Charles Severance who, according to prosecutors, did not actually know any of his victims. Dunning was killed in 2003, Kirby in November 2013, and Lodato in February of 2014.
Charles Severance, a 55-year-old historian, allegedly developed a hatred for the elite of Alexandria, Virginia, after he was denied custody of his son before seeking what he perceived as revenge.
There wasn’t actually any DNA evidence that tied Severance to any of the murders, but one eye witness account and numerous journal entries filled with vitriol implicated him. One such entry seemed to detail how he planned to carry out each of his crimes.
A passage entitled ‘The Parable of the Knocker’ read:
Knock and the door will open. Knock. Talk. Enter. Kill. Exit. Murder. Wisdom.
It didn’t help his case that in March 2014, Severance also sought asylum within the Russian Embassy, claiming the city of Alexandria was persecuting him.
After 12 hours of deliberation the jury was satisfied that they had their man, and Severance was found guilty on ten individual felony charges.
Jurors recommended that Severance be given a life sentence for each of the killings, and it is believed this will be imposed in 2016.
The conviction brings an end to a drawn out and highly publicised serial murder case, hopefully allowing Alexandria residents to feel safe within their homes once more.
The Washington Post