As the manhunt for the man who fatally shot a 59-year-old music teacher continues, investigators are also looking for possible connections between the death of Ruthanne Lodato and a well-known regional traffic planner.
Police say it's too soon to tell whether a deadly shooting in a quiet Alexandria neighborhood may be connected to two other unsolved murders in the city.
Authorities are still searching for the suspect in Thursday's shooting, who is described as an older man with gray hair and a beard. Police say the man knocked on 59-year-old Ruthanne Lodato's door in the 2400 block of Ridge Road Drive just after 11:30 a.m. Thursday and opened fire. Lodato and another woman were shot.
Lodato was taken to a hospital in critical condition and later pronounced dead. The surviving woman, who worked as a caregiver for Lodato's elderly mother, was shot in the arm and hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.
Lodato's mother was also inside the home during the shooting, but was not injured.
During a press conference Friday afternoon, Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook said his detectives will first give "due diligence" to Lodato's case and then make any connections to other cases in the city.
"Finding and arresting the person who did this is our top priority," Cook said.
Cook added that police hope to get a more detailed description of the suspect from the surviving victim once she is well enough to help.
Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille encouraged anyone who may have information regarding the case to contact police.
"I encourage the community to work with the police during this time and share any, any information," Euille said.
Lodato taught at Music Together Alexandria for 20 years and was the center's director, according to a bio on the Music Together Alexandria website.
The manner of her death is strikingly similar to the deaths of a well-known regional transportation official and the wife of a former Alexandria sheriff.
Last November, 69-year-old Ronald Kirby was fatally shot inside his home, less than a mile from the house where Lodato was killed.
No arrest has been made, and police have said there were no signs of forced entry.
Kirby was the director of the department of transportation planning for the Council of Governments, an interstate association that helps counties around D.C. with development, growth and transportation planning.
In 2003, real estate agent and wife of Sheriff Jim Dunning, Nancy Dunning was gunned down inside her Del Ray home. No arrests have been made in her death.
Euille said there is no evidence to support the idea that the three killing are related, but said people are concerned.
While the investigation into Lodato's death continues, police have stepped up patrols in the neighborhood. The death of the music teacher and organ player has left many in the area shocked.
"It's scary enough when it's your neighborhood, but then when you find out that it was someone that you knew.... [A] scary time for the kids," one resident said.
One of Lodato's students left his music book on the sidewalk in front of her home.
Neighbor Eileen Grant said, "She was just a really nice, sweet woman, just nice. It's just so sad."
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