Nancy Dunning murder case discussed by Alexandria Police

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WJLA) - A decade has passed since the mysterious shooting death of the wife of a one-time Alexandria sheriff, and to this day, the case remains unsolved.

Ten years later, in a neighborhood not far from the Del Ray home where Nancy Dunning was murdered, another high-profile murder took place, leaving some to wonder whether the unsolved cases are connected.

Despite the lack of a connection between Dunning's 2003 murder and the Nov. 11 shooting death of Ron Kirby in his Elm Street home, even Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook says the similarities are striking.

"We don't close the door on those possibilities," Cook said. "It is just a natural thing to see whether we are seeing a repeat offender or not."

In both cases, both victims were shot quickly inside a home with no sign of forced entry. The suspect each shooting vanished without a trace. Some still wonder if Dunning was targeted.

Her 23-year-old son discovered her body after she failed to show up for lunch that snowy December day.

After her death, Dunning's husband, James, retired and left the area. He died last summer in South Carolina at the age of 62.

Meanwhile, as Christmas decorations go up in the Del Ray neighborhood where Nancy was killed, longtime residents are left to wonder if Dunning's - or Kirby's - killer will ever be caught.

"Justice isn't always served," family friend Jeff Wallingford said. "Not for a lack of trying, I am sure. Sometimes things work out and somebody gets a break, and sometimes the bad guy gets a break."

Del Ray will host its annual tree-lighting ceremony on Friday night. Once again this year, a large stretch of Mount Vernon Avenue will be lined with luminaries in honor of Nancy Dunning.