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Dec. 4, 2013

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- Two unsolved murders in Alexandria, a decade apart. Is there any connection?

There are similarities between the mysterious shooting deaths of transportation official Ron Kirby and Nancy Dunning, the sheriff's wife who was killed ten years ago Thursday.

"She was the last person on earth, the last person that someone would want to kill," said Nora Partlow who runs St. Elmo's Coffee Pub in Del Ray where Dunning lived and worked as a real estate agent.

Friday night family and friends like Partlow will remember the woman known as the "Queen of Del Ray" by lighting luminaries along Mt. Vernon Avenue.

"As a Realtor she really helped to build this community from what it use to be," said Partlow.

Last year, former Sheriff Jim Dunning died after moving to South Carolina. It's upsetting to many, that his wife's murder was never solved.

Partlow said, "It's like a member of the family. We're always wondering, Why?"

"You don't always have the 'ah ha' moment. We hope to get it," said Alexandria police Chief Earl Cook in a news conference today. He pledged to never put the case on a shelf. Chief Cook said he reassigns the Dunning case to new detectives every few years to give it a fresh set of eyes. And, he pointed out that the community continues to maintain a $100,000 reward for the capture of Nancy Dunning's killer.

There are similarities between Dunning's murder and the recent killing of transportation official Ron Kirby. He was shot in his home the morning of November 11th.

"I have a picture of him over my bed so I can say good night," said a tearful Anne Gray Haynes, Kirby's widow. She thinks her husband's killer was looking for money, and walked in through an unlocked door. She does not believe he knew his killer and thinks it was random.

"It's like we were hit by lightening. Ron got up out of that chair because he heard something. And then killed him."

Police say they've found no connection between the two murders, yet they'll continue to look at any possibility a repeat offender could be behind them both.

On the 10th anniversary of one unsolved homicide, the survivor of another says its' painful to move on.

Gray Haynes said, "I'll have to deal with this for a long time, for the rest of my life now that he's been taken away from me."

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