Massive search underway for Alexandria woman's killer

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA) -- It was boots on the ground and hands in the English Ivy in the search for a killer in Alexandria. Police blocked several roads near the scene of Thursday's murder for the large-scale grid search with about 90 police recruits.

Alexandria police public information officer Crystal Nosal said they were looking for anything the might be related to the killing, such as the weapon used, or something that the killer dropped.

To some neighbors, the police cadets were a welcome surprise.

Neighbor Julie Gunlock said she was so scared she was more than glad to see them, "I'd like them to come live with me. It's nice to see the police presence, the increased police presence."

Other residents saw the cadet's search as a sign of an investigation thin on evidence. Stefan Leader said he suspected it meant police didn't have much to go on for leads.

Ruthanne Lodato, 59, was shot to death on her doorstep Thursday. Police don't know yet if her killing is related to the murder of Ron Kirby in November or to to Nancy Dunning, wife of the former Alexandria Sheriff in 2003.

A neighbor Kirk Balenger said "We're hoping it's not the case. Not that we want any fatalities. But if it's random, it's even scarier."

Ballistics testing is complete on the Kirby murder, but police will not say if it matches the Dunning murder. If the guns match in any of the three murders, police may not tell the public, but they promise to tell the public if their is a concrete link.

The careaker for Ruthanne Lodato's elderly mother was also shot, but has since been released. She saw the suspect and has given police the description for the sketch, which depicts an older white man with a full beard. The artist who drew it is working on a second sketch minus the beard, in case the suspect shaved it off.

Ruthann Lodato's wake will be held Friday evening from 5 to 8 and her funeral will be held on Saturday at 10. Both will be held at The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.


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