WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) – A man wanted for questioning in relation to three unsolved slayings in Alexandria, Va., in the past decade should be extradited to Virginia on an unrelated weapons charge, a West Virginia judge ruled Wednesday.
Charles Severance, 53, has been held in Wheeling since his arrest there last month. Virginia authorities sought his return as a fugitive from justice on a warrant alleging he possessed firearms he was not allowed to have because of his criminal record. Alexandria police said they want to talk to Severance as part of their investigation into the unsolved killings but explicitly declined to name Severance as a suspect.
Severance’s lawyer, Shayne Welling, argued the firearms warrant is a sham and merely a pretext to hold him in relation to the Alexandria killings despite a lack of evidence connecting him.
“This really isn’t about a Loudoun County gun charge. It never has been,” Severance’s lawyer, Shayne Welling, argued to the judge.
But the judge, James Mazzone, said Virginia’s warrant is valid and it’s not his job to speculate whether Virginia may have some ulterior motive in pursuing extradition. A Loudoun County detective testified during Wednesday’s hearing that Virginia has every intention of prosecuting Severance on the firearms charge.
Mazzone did delay implementation of his extradition order for one week after Welling said that Severance wants to appeal the extradition to the state Supreme Court.
Alexandria police said there are similarities in all three fatal shootings – the 2003 slaying of Nancy Dunning, wife of then-Sheriff James Dunning; the November 2013 killing of transportation planner Ronald Kirby; and the Feb. 6 killing of music teacher Ruthanne Lodato – but no definitive proof that the cases are connected.
Severance is a former Alexandria resident who ran for public office multiple times as a fringe candidate, exhibiting odd behavior. An Alexandria judge revoked custody of Severance’s son, Levite, in 2000, and ordered Severance to undergo a mental health examination, which Severance refused.