A 53-year-old man linked to three unsolved, high-profile murders in Alexandria was arraigned in a Virginia court Tuesday on an unrelated gun charge.
Charles Severance had been held in West Virginia on the gun charge from a warrant issued in Loudoun County, where he most recently lived. He was extradited to Virginia Monday afternoon.
Severance appeared in court Tuesday via closed-circuit television, at times briefly smiling. When the judge asked, "Are you Charles Stanard Severance?" he replied, "Good morning, yes, sir."
A preliminary hearing for the gun charge was set for June 18 after prosecutor Jim Plowman said he needed time to subpoena out-of-state witnesses. There was no mention of the Alexandria murders in court.
The judge has allowed Northern Virginia capital defender Ed Ungvarsky, who was also in the courtroom in West Virginia, to represent Severance.
Plowman objected because there is no capital case, but Ungvarsky said he's representing Severance privately. Plowman also questioned the propriety of that since Ungvarsky is a taxpayer-funded public defender who is supposed to be representing capital cases.
"For someone from the capital defender unit to charge out here and take such an interest in a routine felony case, I think it's odd," Plowman said. "I think it poses some potential procedural problems and I wanted to raise those issues with the court."
Severance has been in custody since March 13, when he was arrested at the county library in Wheeling, W.Va. Police from several Northern Virginia agencies and the FBI had been tracking him.
Authorities in Virginia believe Severance could be linked to three murders: Those of popular Realtor Nancy Dunning a decade ago; regional transportation planner Ron Kirby in November 2013, and music teacher Ruthanne Lodato in February 2014.
Plowman said Alexandria detectives don't need his permission to speak to Severance.
"I have no idea what they're going to do," he said. "It's their investigation, and I'm not going to step on their toes doing it."
It's likely the next move in the case will come from Severance's new defense attorney, who could ask that bond be set, News4's Julie Carey reported.
"I'm just going to say he's being held without bond and I think that's appropriate," Plowman said.
Alexandria police wouldn't disclose when they might be paying Severance a visit in Loudoun County.