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Former FBI profiler: Alexandria killer could strike again

Friday - 3/7/2014, 2:13pm  ET

Mug shot (Courtesy Alexandria police)
Alexandria police released this composite sketch of the suspect who may have shot and killed Ruthanne Lodato in February. (Courtesy Alexandria Police Department)

Linking crimes from the past to the present

Clint Van Zandt, former FBI profiler, shares his thoughts on the case.

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WASHINGTON -- Alexandria police announced that three high-profile unsolved homicides spanning a 10-year period may be connected, and now, a former FBI profiler says that officials have the difficult task of figuring out what the three victims had in common and if the suspect is likely to strike again in the area.

On Thursday, Alexandria police said similar bullets from a small-caliber gun were used in the shooting deaths of 59-year-old Ruthanne Lodato in February 2014, 69-year-old Ronald Kirby in November 2013 and 56-year-old Nancy Niedermeier Dunning in December 2003.

Additionally, the killings occurred in the middle of the day in Alexandria and the three victims were longtime residents and active in their communities.

While there are some commonalities with the killings, former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt says officials will be working to link the three victims together and figure out what made them more susceptible to be victims.

"Did they shop at the same grocery store? Did they go to the same church? Where could their paths have crossed paths with the killer?"

Those are the types of questions investigators may be examining, Van Zandt says.

Van Zandt says if the same suspect was involved in the three murders, it raises a question about what the suspect has been doing since Dunning's death in 2003. Dunning was a prominent real estate agent and the wife of the sheriff at the time of her death.

"If the same person used that gun, what was he doing 10 years ago? What has he done the last 10 years? And what has caused him to surface like a U-boat out of World War II to start looking for victims again?"

The killing of Lodato, a popular music teacher, is the only one of the three cases that generated a description of the shooter: an older man with graying hair and beard, wearing a dark coat.

Van Zandt says if the killings were the work of one suspect, it could happen again.

"I think it's very possible that if this is the handiwork -- the terrible handiwork -- of one individual, at least the last two shootings, that this person is capable of doing this again," he says.

This shooter "appears to live, work [and] pass through the area" where the shootings of Lodato and Kirby, a transportation planner, occurred, so Van Zandt says people in the neighborhood should be cautious and aware of their surroundings.

"He knows the area and, more importantly, area people should know him," he says.

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