Prosecution offers explanation for missing gun in Dunning murder
Prosecutors suggested in court Friday that the gun used to kill Nancy Dunning was destroyed by the state of Virginia under court order in 2006.
None of the guns used to killing Dunning, nor Ron Kirby or Ruthanne Lodato have ever been located. But investigators believe that the man charged with their murders, Charles Severance, used the same kind of gun in each crime: a .22-caliber long rifle, mini revolver made by North American Arms.
Severance was arrested in Rockingham County in February 2004 – more than two months after Dunning was killed – and had three guns with him in his red Ford Escort wagon at the time.
Severance was stopped for having expired plates and an expired state inspection sticker.
In addition to trash on the floor and suitcases on the back seat, Virginia state trooper Sgt. John Murphy found bullets and shell casings on the passenger floor and noticed Severance hiding a gun on his lap. A further search of the car turned up a semi-automatic handgun on the back seat and a .22 long rifle North American Arms mini revolver stashed between the seats.
That mini revolver and ammunition found on Severance during his arrest was later destroyed by the state under court in 2006. It was never compared or analyzed to determine whether it had ever been used in any other crimes, said Virginia State Police Sgt. John Murphy, who arrested Severance outside of Harrisonburg more than a decade ago.
“He’s changed a lot in 11 years,” Murphy said of Severance.
Target surveillance video
Prosecutors played for jurors Friday video that shows Nancy Dunning running errands during her final hours alive before she was gunned down inside her Alexandria home in December 2003.
The video came from surveillance cameras at the Potomac Yards Target and captured Dunning’s shopping trip there the morning she was killed.
In the video, a brown-haired man wearing jeans and a dark jacket enters the store and appears to follow Dunning as she pushes her cart laden with items through the store and later exits to the parking lot.
Police believe the man is Severance, who is known to have worn a dark leather jacket and had similarly colored brown hair and no beard when he was younger.
Target bags and her car were found at the Dunning home after her death. Nancy Dunning had told her son Chris, who testified Thursday, that she planned to stop at the store before him and his father for lunch. She never arrived at the restaurant.
Attorneys for Charles Severance, the man charged in her death, planned to show their own video to the jury and a witness but were delayed because of computer problems. They expect to try again next week.
Questions focused on Dunning’s activity and the “man in the dark jacket,” who was not described as Severance. However before showing the video, jurors were shown enhanced screen grabs from the video next to confirmed photos of Severance from the same time period.
The man in still shots from the surveillance cameras bears a resemblance to Severance.
10 Target VHS tapes
Prosecutors have introduced images taken from surveillance cameras at an Alexandria Target that show a man who has a similar appearance to Charles Severance, the man charged with killing three Alexandria residents between 2003 and 2014.
Nancy Dunning was at the same Target the morning she was killed and police believe that Severance, the man charged with her 2003 murder, was following her.
The man in the images is wearing jeans and a dark jacket. He has brown hair and no beard and appears similar to how Severance looked at the time.
Since then, Severance’s hair has turned white and he has grown a long, distinctive beard.
Prosecutors entered into evidence a total of 10 VHS tapes of video surveillance from the Target store.
Defense attorneys will continue asking questions about the video and still images captured from that video this afternoon.