According to three police sources, the autopsy concluded that Drath died of strangulation and blunt-force injuries. Medical examiners are expected to officially release findings Wednesday on the manner of death.
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.
Two police sources said detectives would continue interviewing Muth, but were able to bring the charges after concluding that he gave no credible alibi and that there was no sign of forced entry into the home. Muth’s history of alleged violence against his wife and apparent fabrications about his life were also factors, the sources said.
Muth apparently approached one of Drath’s relatives the day she was reported dead and said that he and his wife had an agreement that he would receive tens of thousands of dollars upon her death, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation.
The couple had been married for more than 20 years, a relationship that Muth said was a “marriage of convenience.” The union gave Muth, a native of Germany, access to Drath’s connections in Washington. It was also a tumultuous and sometimes violent relationship, according to court records.
Drath had filed protective orders against Muth over the past two decades, and in 2006 Muth was charged with assault after Drath told police that he hit her over the head with a chair, slammed her head into the floor and restrained her in the home so she could not report the incident. Those charges were dropped before trial because Drath declined to pursue the case.
In a statement released Tuesday night, the Drath family praised the work of the D.C. police as “excellent.”
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our mother and grandmother, Viola Drath,” the family said. “Her intelligence, independence and grace remained intact to the end.”
Muth, in an obituary he submitted to The Post on Saturday, listed Drath’s cause of death as being from a head injury suffered in a fall and listed her date of death as Aug. 11, which was Thursday. He later said that a relative wrote that information. Her body wasn’t discovered until Friday. Police have said the cause of her death was inconsistent with a fall.