Prosecutors Call Charles Severance a Flight Risk; Severance Ordered Held Without Bond

Charles Severance, 53, ordered held without bond

The man linked to the investigation of three high-profile murders that have rocked Alexandria, Va., will remain in a West Virginia jail for a while longer. Meanwhile, West Virginia prosecutors said they've been unable to locate his two guns.

Charles Severance, 53, appeared before a West Virginia Circuit Court judge Monday morning to fight his extradition back to Virginia.

However, his public defender told his client not to answer any questions -- not even what his name is.

Severance, 53, was arrested Thursday at a Wheeling, W.Va., public library, on a warrant on a weapons charge out of Loudoun County. Federal agents are investigating whether he may be connected to the deaths of three prominent Alexandria community members over the past decade.

In court Monday, the judge ordered him held without bond after prosecutors argued that Severance is a flight risk, showing an image of Severance visiting the Russian Embassy to ask for asylum.

They introduced into evidence a video still of Severance, oddly clad in a poncho and tri-corner hat, leaving the embassy with passport in hand March 7.

A police department report obtained by the News4 I-Team shows Severance was "sent away" from the embassy, labeled an "unwanted guest."

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is expected to request a warrant for Severance to be returned to the commonwealth, but that could take up to 60 days.

In the meantime, Severance being held in Northern Regional Jail in West Virginia and has a bond hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

Several sources said last week that investigators are questioning whether Severance -- who ran for mayor in Alexandria twice -- has any connection to the slayings of music teacher Ruthanne Lodato last month; local transportation official Ron Kirby in November, and Nancy Dunning, wife of then-Alexandria Sheriff Jim Dunning, in December 2003.

"It's premature to call Mr. Severance a suspect at this time," said Crystal Nosal, public information officer for the Alexandria Police Department, on Friday.

Nosal said Severance came to their attention through a crime tip. Police raided his home in Ashburn, Va., last Wednesday night, neighbors said. The following morning, the FBI contacted Wheeling police.

Severance had checked into a hotel there under his own name, but was not at the hotel. Wheeling police searching the town found him in the library, where they took him into custody.

Federal agents searched Severance's hotel room and car and confiscated the hard drive of the computer he had been using at the library.

Families of the victims were hesitant to comment on the arrest Friday night, but they do want to know what happened to their loved ones.

"Right now I am just grieving Ron's death," Anne Haynes, the widow of Rob Kirby, told News4's Darcy Spencer.

"It would be important to know what happened, because I don't know what happened. All I know is that he's gone, he's dead, and he's not coming back," she said.

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