Three high-profile, unsolved homicides that have confounded Alexandria police "will be investigated as a series of crimes," Alexandria Police Chief Earl L. Cook said Thursday in a news conference.
A report from the Virginia Department of Forensic Science shows that the bullet fragments have the same general rifling class and characteristics and are similar in design, he said. Rifling is the spiral grooves formed in the bore of a firearm barrel; rifling also determines how a bullet exits the chamber.
Comparing the Lodato evidence with previous evidence, the weapons appear to have the same "general class rifling characteristics," but police can't say whether the bullets came from the same weapon, Cook said. But additional similarities in the crimes: Time of day, no robbery in each case and geography also come into play, he said.
Cook also said another possible similarity in the crimes was that the shooter "presented himself at the door," he said.
The forensic evidence — mainly the type of gun used, a small-caliber weapon, he said, and the "rifling," in addition to the similarities in the time of day and geography, Cook said, mean that police must "consider the possibility that all cases are linked together. These cases will be investigated as a series of crimes."
Cook held the news conference to discuss the latest findings in the Ruthanne Lodato homicide investigation. The 59-year-old wife, mother and music teacher was gunned down Feb. 6 in her home in the North Ridge neighborhood of Alexandria.
The other unsolved homicide cases possibly linked to the Lodato homicide are Ron Kirby, 69, a longtime transportation planner in Rosemont who was killed in his home Nov. 11, and Nancy Dunning, a well-known real estate agent who was also killed in her home, in Del Ray. Dunning, who was a mother and wife to the then-Alexandria sheriff, died Dec. 5, 2003.
Del Ray, Rosemont and North Ridge are all within close proximity to each other. Cook said: "I think that it would be a good idea, if you're in that geographical area, to be even more...on guard."
"But it would be remiss for others in the area to assume you are out of some sort of area where you might not be involved," he said.
Also at the news conference, the chief said police are considering releasing a sketch of the suspect as he might look if he altered his appearance.
"We are going to bring this person to justice so we can put this horrible series.. behind us and get back to a normal lifestyle," Cook said.
Anyone with a tip should contact police, Cook said. "If you have any suspicion whatsoever of anyone," he said, call 703-746-4444 or 703-746-6864.
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