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Posted at 02:14 PM ET, 08/17/2011

Viola Drath’s husband asked her family about money owed upon her death, court papers say

Viola Drath’s husband gave her family a letter discussing details about money he claimed would be owed him upon her death on the day she was found dead in the bathroom of her Georgetown home, according to court papers.


(JAMES R. BRANTLEY/THE WASHINGTON TIMES - THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
Police charging documents released Wednesday said that Albrecht Gero Muth’s letter, which was written before her death, instructed the executors of her estate to pay him $150,000 if something happened to her — and another $50,000 if the estate’s liquid assets totaled more than $600,000.

Scheduled to appear in court Wednesday for the first time since he was arrested Tuesday night and charged with murdering his elderly wife last week, Muth told Drath’s family that she wrote and signed the letter, the charging documents said. A family member said the signature was forged, according to the documents.

Muth also allegedly asked a member of Drath’s family if they would continue paying him the $2,000 monthly allowance his wife gave him, according to the court papers.

D.C. police said Muth was taken into custody while walking in the heart of Georgetown, a few blocks from the Q Street home where Viola Drath’s body was found.

Muth, 47, had been the only suspect in the slaying of Drath, 91, a former journalist, author and Georgetown fixture. Drath was discovered unresponsive Friday morning in a bathroom at their home, and it was first suspected that she died of natural causes. Medical examiners determined Saturday that her death was a homicide.

Although Muth told The Washington Post on Tuesday that he was no longer a suspect, police arrested him at 7:51 p.m., said Officer Hugh Carew, a police spokesman. Homicide detectives took Muth into custody without incident at 33rd and P streets NW.

Carew said Muth was charged with second-degree murder, which implies that the slaying was not thought to be premeditated.

The charging documents offer more information about what Muth and authorities say took place in the hours before and leading up to Drath’s death.

Clad in a black shirt, Drath’s body was found in the second-floor bathroom at 8:18 a.m. on August 12, according to the documents. At the time of her autopsy two hours later, a medical examiner said she had been dead for 12 hours.

Muth gave detectives the following account of his whereabouts during Drath’s last hours, according to the documents:

• He was with her until the evening before she was found, when he went out to meet a friend.

• He came home around 9:45 p.m., entering the house through a basement door.

• He went into his study, which is next to the bathroom where Drath’s body was found, and checked his e-mail.

• He then went out for an evening walk, returning an hour later and falling asleep in the basement.

• He awoke at 4 a.m. and returned to the study, leaving the house around 7 a.m. for a 50-minute walk.

• He found Drath’s body upon his return.

Muth initially told detectives he did not touch his wife’s body or attempt CPR, according to the documents.

When a detective asked Muth if Drath died in an accident, according to the documents, he replied “It wasn’t an accident.” He told detectives an intruder must have killed her, but they found no sign of an intruder or evidence of a robbery.

“It doesn’t look good for me,” Muth told detectives, according to the court papers.

When police who questioned Muth told him his DNA was found on her body, he said he kissed her the night before she was killed and touched her hand when he found, according to the court papers.

Detectives noticed small scratches on his forehead, the papers say, which he said were caused — along with a chipped tooth — during a collision with a kitchen door on Thursday evening.

The autopsy revealed bruising and abrasions to her neck, according to the documents, as well as bruising to her scalp, fractured neck cartilage and ribs and a torn right thumbnail. The cause of death was determined to be strangulation and blunt force injuries.

This item has been updated.

By  |  02:14 PM ET, 08/17/2011

Categories:  From the Courthouse, Homicide, The District

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