“Homicide investigators are aggressively working on the case,” said D.C. Police Assistant Chief Peter Newsham. Late Sunday, police had not announced any arrests. Officials said they found no signs of forced entry at Drath’s home.
As police begin to unravel the details of Drath’s death, they will be delving into her uncommon life. She was born in Germany in 1920. Her nine decades included marriage to a U.S. Army colonel and immigration to the United States, followed by work as a journalist, college instructor, contributor to the Washington Times and advocate of stronger U.S. relations with Germany. She also wrote several books.
In her later years in Washington, Drath joined committees that recognized and celebrated members of the military, especially those who served in Iraq. She hosted dinner parties with noted guests that often led to heated discussions about foreign policy. And she nearly always wore pearls.
Police were trying to determine why someone would want to kill the kindly woman.
Detectives interviewed family members over the weekend. On Sunday, police culled evidence with technicians and searched Drath’s cream-colored home in the 3200 block of Q Street NW, which is decorated with mementos from Germany, the Nebraska town where her first husband was a professor, her life in Washington and her world travels.
At 4:26 p.m. Saturday, The Washington Post received an obituary submission from a Hotmail account that Drath’s second husband, Albrecht Gero Muth, has used to organize events through several military-related Web sites. In the obituary submission, Drath’s cause of death was listed as “Head Trauma resulting from Fall.”
Muth was at the Georgetown home when paramedics arrived Friday, police said.
Newsham said Sunday that Drath’s injuries “are inconsistent with the report of a fall.”
Muth did not return phone calls Sunday. In response to an e-mail, he forwarded a link to Drath’s obituary on a German news site. Drath’s two daughters could not be reached for comment.
Drath always maintained connections to the country where she was born. Her first husband was Col. Francis S. Drath, who was a military governor in part of Bavaria after World War II. They married in 1947.
They soon moved to Nebraska, where he was professor of American literature at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, according to his obituary. She studied philosophy and Germanic literature and earned a master’s degree in 1952.
In 1968, the Draths came to Washington, where Col. Drath took a legislative affairs post with the Selective Service System.
Viola Drath authored several books, including a biography of former German chancellor Willy Brandt that was published in 1975. A New York Times reviewer wrote: “Drath’s book, though clumsily written, ineptly edited and fundamentally weakened by the author’s unresolved ambivalence, is interesting largely as a 40-year anthology of the unpleasant things that have been recurringly said, and often believed, about Brandt.”