Man Investigated in Va. Homicides Remembered for Odd Behavior in Md.

When a man being investigated in connection with three homicides in Virginia lived in Cumberland, Md., he marked his time there with strange behavior, according to a neighbor who remembers him.

Charles Severance ran a bed and breakfast in Cumberland, advertising in the DC area on Craigslist.

Former neighbor Kevin Rowley remembered the old claw foot bathtubs Severance, whom he knew as Charlie, kept in the yard of his house on Browning Street. Severance, who lived in the rolling hills of Western Maryland from 2001 to 2005, ran afoul of the neighbors and the local law due to his unorthodox bathing habits.

“He bathed in the yard nude,” Rowley said. “He had old ball and call tubs all over the yard and he was very economical. He would wait for rainwater.”

Severance named his bed and breakfast "Chateau Levite" after his son, Rowley said.

Severance also planted fruit trees in the yard and donated the fruit to the needy, Rowley said.

Severance's car is still in the alley behind the house. He used it to drive to visit friends in Virginia and to target practice in West Virginia, neighbors said. Neighbors often saw him putting his guns into the vehicle.

It was clear Severance was an educated man, Rowley said, but he would grow fanatical when discussing what he described as injustice at the hands of authorities in Alexandria in his legal battle to have access to his son.

Not long after being arrested for allegedly having indecent contact with an underage girl, Severance sold the home and moved away, Rowley said. The charges were later dropped.


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Severance apparently maintained contact with at least one person in Cumberland and was seen there as recently as two years ago.

At an extradition hearing in West Virginia Monday, prosecutors argued Severance remain held as a flight risk, citing his alleged attempt to seek asylum at the Russian Embassy in D.C. A bond hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

Severance was arrested Thursday at a Wheeling, W.Va., public library on a warrant on a weapons charge out of Loudoun County. Authorities are investigating whether he is connected to the deaths of three people in Alexandria over a decade.

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