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Ruthanne Lodato Homicide: Alexandria Police Chief, Mayor Attempt to Reassure Community

Suspect is still at large; officials address idea of "serial killer" with three unsolved murders in Alexandria.

Alexandria Chief of Police Earl Cook and Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, in a news conference Friday, attempted to reassure the community that police are doing everything they can to solve Thursday's homicide. Photo by Mary Ann Barton
Alexandria Chief of Police Earl Cook and Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, in a news conference Friday, attempted to reassure the community that police are doing everything they can to solve Thursday's homicide. Photo by Mary Ann Barton
Alexandria Chief of Police Earl Cook and Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, in a news conference Friday, attempted to reassure the community that police are doing everything they can to solve Thursday's homicide and to protect the citizens of Alexandria.

"Yesterday we were shocked by the tragic events unfolding on Ridge Road Drive," said Euille. "Today, we grieve and we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends to Ruthanne Lodato, a beloved music teacher who touched many lives in this city. Our thoughts are also with the other victim [a caretaker was shot and is in the hospital] of this senseless crime."

"For me personally, I knew her family, her relatives, as a lifelong resident of this city," the mayor said.

Alexandria music teacher Ruthanne Lodato died at the hospital Thursday after she was shot at about 11:30 a.m. answering the door of her home on Ridge Road Drive in Alexandria; a caretaker was wounded and is in the hospital. A grandmother was reportedly also at the scene but was not hurt.

The shooter is on the loose and police said there have been no sightings of the man. The chief described him as an older white male, balding with gray hair, a full beard and wearing a tan jacket. No age range was given. Police hope to soon have a sketch of the man in hopes someone might recognize him, the police chief said.

Police are waiting for the other victim in the shooting, described as a caretaker, to become medically stable before interviewing her again. She was reportedly shot in the arm.

Police are also waiting to interview family members who are grieving, to see if they might know of any possible reasons someone would target Lodato, the police chief said.

Reporters at Friday's news conference addressed the possibility of there being a "serial killer" on the loose who is targeting people in their homes in the area, after the unsolved murders last year of Ron Kirby and in 2003, of Nancy Dunning. Both were, like Lodato, fairly high-profile citizens who were well-liked and well-known in the community. All were shot in their homes during the day.

"I have a high level of confidence in our public safety folks to investigate and find the person who committed this act," the mayor said. "Residents have a right to be concerned but I don't want them thinking there is a serial killer on the loose."

"We want folks to not be afraid to be out and about," he said, although he urged residents to be aware of their surroundings and take the usual precautions.

The police chief said right now there is no evidence linking the murders but said police are open to looking at similarities in the cases.

"We have received a large number of tips" regarding Thursday's shooting, the chief said, and encouraged anyone else who knows anything to call (703) 746-6864. Callers may remain anonymous.

Chris February 07, 2014 at 05:32 PM
No offense Mr. Mayor, but you say you have a "high level" of confidence that the police will find the person who committed this murder. As a citizen of Alexandria, I wish we could share your confidence. Nancy Dunning, Ron Kirby, and now Ruthanne Lodato all killed in home invasions. All unsolved. Given the track record here, it seems that having a high level of confidence might be misplaced. I am sure you know something we all don't, and am hopeful an arrest is imminent.
Reba Thomas February 08, 2014 at 11:28 AM
Well said, Chris. I respect and support the Alexandria PD, but the inability to solve the few murders that do occur here is troubling. Until there are more answers, a higher than normal level of concern and precaution is warranted.
TrustMe February 08, 2014 at 08:44 PM
One of the scary realities of police work is that "random" crimes like this are very hard to solve since there is almost no evidence to work with.
Mike Dray February 23, 2014 at 01:56 PM
Inability to solve murders? The APD actually has a very high murder case closure rate. Chris named three unsolve murders (two are still active investigations) that happened in 10 years as his reasoning to brand the APD as unable to solve murders. What ignorance from what is probably an armchair detective. These two cases are very unusual and extremely hard to solve. Also, the FBI is involved too, so I guess the FBI has no ability too? Geez people this isn't an episode of CSI- let's hope it pans out and an arrest is made but not every case is solvable. Check out bordering DC's homicide closure rate. Prayers for Mrs. Lodato's family.
Chris February 26, 2014 at 07:05 AM
Mike - nice use of name calling to try to censure those who disagree with you. A commonly used political tactic to silence people. Perhaps you do not live in North Ridge but let me paint a picture. People are scared. Doors are locked during the day. Neighbors are thinking of arming themselves for protection. All due to recent unsolved murders and a seemingly recent uptick in auto thefts and break-ins. There was another shooting just the other day. I, for one, am grateful the FBI is involved and am hopeful the local police will solve these crimes. To say, however that there is a high level of confidence from the many folks I know who actually live here would be incorrect. We rarely see police cars patrolling here. And there is no information at all. So rather than call people names Mike, perhaps you would be willing to step up and lead a neighborhood watch or help out the community in other ways to help people become more secure.

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