CRIME

Alexandria police hand out sketches of shooting suspect

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WJLA) - The manhunt for the person who shot and killed an Alexandria woman at her home continued Monday as police handed out fliers with a sketch of the suspect.

Police hand out suspect sketch

Police released this composite sketch of the shooting suspect Friday evening. Photo: Alexandria Police Department
Photo: LinkedIn
One day after the shooting on Ridge Road Drive, Alexandria Police remained on the scene. Photo by Brianne Carter.

On Friday night, police released a composite drawing of the man.

Beloved music teacher and long-time resident Ruthanne Lodato, 59, was fatally shot after a knock at her door around 11:30 a.m last Thursday. Investigators believe an older man with a white beard pulled a gun out and fired repeatedly when the door opened. A woman who worked as a caregiver for an elderly family member was also shot, but survived.

“We will all miss Ruthanne every day in many, many different ways,” says John Kelly, a neighbor and friend.

Many in the North Ridge neighborhood are in fear.

“It is understandable to be frightened in these circumstances,” Chief Earl Cook of the Alexandria Police Department said at a press conference Friday.

Detectives removed boxes and bags of evidence from the home on Monday. There is still no motive in Thursday's shooting, and police have not found any apparent connection between the victims and the suspect.

Meanwhile, a memorial outside of Lodato’s home include sheet music and messages of love.

Maria Balda, who says she has known Lodato since her son was six months old, still cannot believe the crime.

"Why would someone do this?" she asks.

Police acknowledge striking similarities between this killing and two other unsolved murders in Alexandria: Nancy Dunning was shot inside her home a decade ago. Just a few months ago, Ron Kirby was shot in his home. Both shootings happened during the afternoon and are relatively close in proximity.

“Residents have a right to be concerned, but I don’t want to characterize it that there is a serial killer floating around this city,” says Alexandria Mayor William Euille.

“I got scared,” says Sophie Normal Haist. “It is so bizarre. This shouldn’t be happening. That is just crazy.”

The North Ridge Citizens Association held a regularly scheduled meeting Monday night, where the Alexandria police chief answered questions from concerned citizens.

Worried neighbors gathered, desperate for information regarding the murder of Ruthanne Lodato.

"Ruthanne's death has left our community with a deep sense of shock and grief," said Ken Hill with the North Ridge Citizens Association.

"A couple of my neighbors and myself, we have this feeling we have seen that face, but we can't put our finger on it," added Alexandria resident Keith Bloom.

Police have revealed very little new information, but say that federal investigators are assisting in checking out hundreds of tips. They were candid in their continued concern for the safety of citizens.

"You should be concerned about it. I don't want people relaxed. I want people on guard at this point until we get further in this investigation and hopefully catch this person," said Earl Cook, Alexandria Police Chief.

The overriding fear rippling through Alexandria is that this particular murder shares striking similarities to two other unsolved homicides of prominent residents.

Nancy Dunning, the wife of a former sheriff, was shot and killed back in 2003 inside her home. And transportation official Ron Kirby was also shot and killed just a few months ago inside his home.

"I want to know if this is a serial killer with a vendetta or some crazy guy or what -- people aren't answering their door, it's pretty scary," said Alexandria resident Gail Gordon Donegan.

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