- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Alexandria police yesterday said they believe Sheriff James H. Dunning’s wife, Nancy, may have been killed last month over a personal matter.

Mrs. Dunning, 56, was found fatally shot Dec. 5 in her home in the 200 block of West Mount Ida Avenue.

“The evidence gathered thus far indicates that Nancy Dunning was the specific target of her killer and that this homicide was motivated by an event or relationship in her recent past,” Alexandria police said in a statement yesterday.

Police asked the public’s help in identifying a man they say may be a “potential witness” in the case. Two photographs, which appear to have been taken by a surveillance camera, show a man talking on a cell phone.

Anyone recognizing the individual is asked to contact the police department’s criminal investigations section at 703/838-4711.

Police hope the information will re-energize an investigation that had seemingly gone cold nearly two months after the killing.

Community members said yesterday they were happy to hear that some progress had been made in the case.

“We’re certainly heartened that there’s at least something to go on,” said Lonnie Rich, a former City Council member who is organizing a reward fund for information leading to Mrs. Dunning’s killer. “It’s been a long dry spell and it’s very encouraging.”

Mr. Rich said the reward fund has reached a predetermined goal of $100,000 and any additional money collected will be used for a memorial to Mrs. Dunning.

A day of fund raising is scheduled today at Village Il-Porto Ristorante at 3112 Mount Vernon Ave., where a portion of the lunch and dinner proceeds will be donated to the memorial fund, he said.

Village Il-Porto owner Mirna Lobo said Mrs. Dunning was a neighbor of hers and a regular customer who had dined there with her husband the night before she was killed.

Family friends 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 husbandand their son for lunch, and when she did not arrive, the two went back to the house, where they found her body.

The evening of the killing, police conducted what they described as “routine” searches of the Dunning home, the sheriff’s city-owned Ford Crown Victoria, and the personal vehicle of the couple’s son, Christopher.

Investigators also have questioned Mrs. Dunning’s sister, Christine Neidermeier, who had disagreed with Mrs. Dunning over the care of their now-deceased mother. Miss Neidermeier was at home in Connecticut at the time of the killing.

Mrs. Dunning, 56, a popular Del Ray-area real estate agent, and her husband lived in Alexandria for nearly 30 years. Sheriff Dunning was first elected in 1986. They have two adult children, Christopher and Elizabeth.

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