Police hunt for killer who gunned down popular Virginia teacher

Police in Virginia are hunting for a bearded killer who gunned down a piano teacher in her home in a case that bears similarities to two other unsolved murders in the same quiet neighborhood.

Virginia authorities, as well as the FBI, are investigating the murder of 59-year-old Ruthanne Lodato, who was shot to death when she answered a knock at the door of her Alexandria, Va., home.

Alexandria Police Chief Earl L. Cook said at a press conference Friday that detectives were "looking at any similarities" between the death of Lodato and the November 2013 killing of Ronald Kirby, the director of transportation planning at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and the 2003 shooting of a sheriff's wife, Nancy Dunning.

No motive has been released yet in Lodato's murder.

As the investigation continues, people who knew Lodato are still trying to come to terms with her death, especially many of the young students she impacted so greatly, Fox affiliate WTTG-TV reported.

Nine-year-old Gillian Krupicka and her 11-year-old-sister, Janella, took music classes from Lodato since the first grade and the girls said they want to honor their teacher by making sure everyone knows she will live on through the music she taught so many to play, according to the station.

"If she knew we were doing this, I think she would be glad and happy about it so I just wanted everyone to know that she is still with us," Gillian Krupicka told the station.

Lori Dicesare's daughter Gabrielle took piano lessons from Lodato for ten years. "Her legacy would be love for music, respect and a wonderful mentor," Dicesare says.

Harrison Sniady, now a college student, told WTTG that the woman who taught him piano lessons for 14 years instilled in him a real love of music.

"She would always play it first, the whole piece, and if you didn't like it you wouldn't have to play it," Sniady explains. "She would help you find a piece you loved playing and that's why kids loved taking lessons from her because they never played a piece that wasn't fun to play."

Lodato served as a director at Music Together Alexandria, teaching out of Del Ray United Methodist Church. She also taught music in local schools for nearly 40 years.

The suspect is described as an older white male, balding with gray hair and a full beard. He was wearing a tan jacket at the time of the shooting.

Anyone with information about the case is urged to call detectives at 703-746-6864.

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