A 47-year-old psychiatric nurse on her way to work at Washington Hospital Center was shot and killed Friday night in a parking lot there, D.C. police reported.

The victim, Bertha Owens Speight, of 604 Mellon St SE, was found by another nurse about 11 p.m., lying next to her parked automobile. Police said Speight had been shot in the head. A hospital doctor pronounced her dead at 11:45 p.m.

Police said yesterday that they knew of no motive in the killing and had no suspect. The victim's purse was found near her body, and investigators said they did not believe she has been robbed.

While police made a thorough search yesterday of the hospital's parking lot No. 9, where Speight's green, 1968 car was parked associates of the victim expressed shock about her death.

"Everybody feels very badly about it," said Jane Snyder, a hospital spokeswoman.

She said Speight, who was scheduled to work the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, had been working at the hospital since March. Previously Speight had worked from time to time at the hospital as a private-duty nurse. She had recently earned a master's degree in psychiatric nursing.

According to neighbors, Speight had been living in the Mellon Street area for about two years.

"I'm very upset," said Frances Dyer, a neighbor. Dyer, an invalid, said Speight would often offer to help her.

"She was a very pleasant person," said Hattie Rochell, another Mellon Street neighbor.