Margaret Boyer, a 68-year-old boarding house proprietor and a pouplar figure in the Northeast Washington neighborhood where she lived, was found stabbed to death in a bathtub of her home Friday night. She had been strangled and stabbed in the neck repeatedly.

The body of Boyer, who was affectionately known as "Miss Peggy" by the children in the quiet Brookland neignborhood of brick two-story duplex homes, was discovered about 7 p.m. Friday. Police had gone to her house in response to a report of a bizarre robbery in the basement apartment.

Police were called to the home at 1215 Taylor St. NE when Deirdre Biddiex, a 21-year-old Southwest Washington woman, reported she had been robbed by an unknown man. Yesterday, Biddiex, nursing a swollen lip, sat in the dining room of her home and described the chain of events that led to the discovery of the woman's body.

A dictaphone operator for the Federal Communications Commission, Biddiex said she had gone to the basement apartment of "Miss Peggy's" home to visit a friend.

"This guy came to the door and let me in," she said. She said the man told her that he was her friend's cousin and that her friend was not there, but would be returning.

After waiting for her friend for about an hour, Biddiex said she got ready to leave. "He wouldn't let me leave," she said. "I asked him what you gonna do to me - rape me."

She said the unidentified man started getting fresh with her, so she pulled out her fingernail file. He hit her.

Biddiex said she told the man that she had $5 in her pocketbook. The man took the money, told her to remain still and fled.

After a few minutes, Biddiex said she left the room and went upstairs to the first floor apartment, where the tenant called the police.

When the police arrived, they returned to the basement apartment. "When I went upstairs I passed the bathroom door and I noticed it was closed," she said. I thought he was in there."

When police entered the bathroom they found Boyer fully clothed and lying face down in a bathtub of water. The shower curtains had been drawn.

Yesterday Melvin Thomas, a nextdoor neighbor, sat on his front porch and talked about the murder. "It was a senseless death. "She was one of the nicest people in the world."

"She was a fantastic lady," said Barbara Workman, a neighbor whose three children often visited "Miss Peggy." She would do everything for everybody," she said.

Yesterday, Workman and her three daughters fed and walked Boyer's German shepherd dog, who was found in the second floor apartment when police arrived. Boyer lived on the second floor and rented out her basement and first floor.

Nancy Thomas, Melvin's mother, described Boyer as a "a spry woman," who often walked through the neighborhood and chatted with neighbors and their children.

Police said yesterday they were looking for man who Biddiex said robbed her in connection with their investigation of Boyer's death. There have been no arrests, police said.