Friday, May 7, 2004

Five months after the wife of Alexandria Sheriff James H. Dunning was found fatally shot, the victim’s sister yesterday said she is no longer a person of interest in the case.

Police would only say they have no suspects in the slaying of Nancy Dunning and their investigation is continuing.

But Christine Niedermeier, 52, said police told her some time ago she is not a suspect in Mrs. Dunning’s slaying and she decided to go public for several reasons.

“I’ve lost my sister, and on top of that, it’s had a devastating affect on my personal and professional life,” Miss Niedermeier told the Associated Press.

The lawyer and former Connecticut lawmaker has worked in recent years as a free-lance television reporter and producer. Her sister’s slaying put her in the news.

Mrs. Dunning, 56, a real estate agent, was found dead Dec. 5 in her Alexandria home in the 200 block of West Mount Ida Avenue. She was discovered by her husband and son after she had failed to meet them for lunch.

Although Miss Niedermeier was at her Fairfield, Conn., home at the time of her sister’s death, publicity about the case has been extensive.

“I’ve been unable to work because my name has been connected to these stories for five months,” she said.

Still, she understands that the violent circumstances of her sister’s death placed everyone in her family under police scrutiny.

“They reached the conclusion that I was not involved in this at all,” Miss Niedermeier said when asked what police told her.

She is now calling on her sister’s friends and other residents of Alexandria to help police solve the case.

“I hope now that they will spend their efforts productively trying to bring forth honest information on what really happened to my sister, Nancy,” said Miss Niedermeier.

Several of Mrs. Dunning’s friends have offered $100,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment of the killer.

Mrs. Dunning lived in Northern Virginia for nearly 30 years.

In March, ads were run in New England newspapers, including the Connecticut Post, seeking information in the case. The ads featured a photo of Mrs. Dunning and a second photo of an unidentified man being sought as a witness.

The Alexandria Police Department characterized the case as open and active, with no suspects identified.

“Mrs. Dunning was targeted; we don’t believe that it was a random crime,” said police spokeswoman Amy Bertsch.

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