In the affluent suburban community of Alexandria in Northern Virginia (just outside Washington, DC), there’s been a disturbing development. In recent days, a seemingly random murder occurred that appears to be linked to at least two other local murders, noted ABC News. Two of the killings happened within the past six months, while another is an unsolved murder that took place some 10 years ago (although all of the deaths occurred within a two-mile radius and have similar details).
Joining the murders together
While the Alexandria Police Department initially downplayed any connection among the murders, it now appears that there are enough evidentiary clues in common to link the murders together. All of the murders were committed with a firearm, and all took place within the victims’ homes during daylight hours, according to the Alexandria Times newspaper. According to ballistic reports from the police department, it appears that the bullets used in all the murders share similar characteristics and design indicators.
However, given the comments of Police Chief Earl Cook, Analyst Dan Kennedy says “it’s a stretch to say the police are looking for a serial killer.” However, he also noted, “frankly, it’s not that much of a stretch.” In the meantime, police have released a sketch of a man they would like to talk with, who is described as a bearded, balding man.
Speculation about a serial killer
In part, the rampant speculation about the possibility of a serial murderer began when the media began reporting on the shocking nature and location of the Lodato murder. Noted a local city councilman from the same area: “This is such a quiet neighborhood. This is such a traumatic and unsettling and tragic event. It’s hard to let go…it’s unnerving.”
Real interest in the connections among the murders was peaked by the seemingly random nature of the daylight killing of piano teacher Ruthanne Lodato, 59, and the wounding of her mother’s caretaker within Lodato‘s home. (Her elderly mother, Mary Lucy Giammittorio, 89, also at home at the time of the killing, was not harmed.)
Just months earlier, a transit worker, Ronald Kirby, 69, was found shot dead in his home as well, not far from the location of the Lodato murder. Then there was the long-unsolved home murder of Nancy Dunning, a real estate agent and local arts organizer, who was also the wife of the sheriff and lived in the same area.
Searching for answers
Theories about a serial killer have run rampant, particularly among local residents, in part because the nature of these killings appears to be so arbitrary. The public wants answers when there aren’t any, and many would prefer to think that the deaths are in some way connected, rather than the result of indiscriminate acts of violence. Noted Ken Hill, president of the North Ridge Citizens Association, about the serial killer speculation, “I think it’s a normal sort of way to process the whole thing, as to how this could have happened.”
June Tangney, professor of psychology at George Mason University, agrees. After an unexplained tragedy, it’s normal for people to search for answers, she suggested. It’s a tool people use to cope with the anxiety.