- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Alexandria police have widened their probe into the slaying of Nancy Dunning to include any activities the sheriff’s wife may have been involved in or any relationships she may have had in recent years.

Mrs. Dunning, 56, a popular Del Ray-area real estate agent and wife of Sheriff James H. Dunning, was found fatally shot inside her home in the neighborhood on Dec. 5.

Police said yesterday that they continue to question Mrs. Dunning’s friends, associates and relatives, but added that they have not identified any suspects in the killing and that no one has been ruled out as a suspect.

“There is a sense of urgency and importance, but we know we have a lot of work to do,” said Alexandria police spokeswoman Amy Bertsch, adding that an “adequate number” of resources have been assigned to the case and that detectives are being “patient and determined” in their approach.

As of Monday, the only papers that had been filed in Alexandria Circuit Court were search warrants executed the evening of the killing. Police searched the Dunning home in the 200 block of Mount Ida Avenue, the sheriff’s city-owned Ford Crown Victoria, and the personal vehicle of the couple’s son, Christopher.

Nothing was taken from the house or from the son’s car, but police seized a number of items from the trunk of Sheriff Dunning’s vehicle, including a pair of rubber gloves, a white towel, a pair of brown gloves, four golf gloves, a bag of shotgun shells, two 12-gauge shotgun shell boxes, and a photograph of an “unknown female” that was in a briefcase in the trunk.

Friends of the family said Mrs. Dunning was found at the bottom of a staircase in her home, dressed as if she were going out, with her keys nearby. She was shot several times. Friends said Mrs. Dunning had planned to meet her husband and their son for lunch, and when she did not show up, the two went back to the house, where they found her dead.

Emergency crews were called for what initially was believed to be a medical emergency but later reclassified as a homicide. Sources said there was no sign of a forced entry, and that investigators suspect Mrs. Dunning knew her killer.

Michael Madigan, a D.C. lawyer, said he believed police were “satisfied” that Mrs. Dunning’s sister Christine Neidermeier was in Connecticut at the time of the killing. Reports indicated that police were looking closely at Miss Neidermeier because of family disputes the women had surrounding the care of their now-deceased mother.

In a statement Mr. Madigan released on her behalf last week, Miss Neidermeier said she had been questioned by police and that she was “stunned and saddened by the tragic death of my sister, Nancy.”

“I learned of her death when my brother called me last Friday at my home in Connecticut, where I had been the entire week preceding Nancy’s death,” the statement said. “My phone records and people I spoke to show that I was in Connecticut, hundreds of miles away from Virginia at the time of her death.”

Former Alexandria City Council member Lonnie Rich said a reward fund for information leading to the arrest and indictment of Mrs. Dunning’s killer has collected more than $70,000.

Police returned to the Dunnings’ neighborhood Friday to pass out fliers soliciting information in the case. Miss Bertsch said police have received a number of calls to a tip line at 703/838-4711.

“We feel like we are getting cooperation from the community, but still urge them to think back and don’t be afraid to call us and let us decide if something is significant or not,” she said.


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