A recently widowed 35-year-old woman was found savagely stabbed to death yesterday in the living room of her Southeast apartment, D.C. police reported.

The body of the woman, Bernice Lampkins was found on the floor of the blood-spattered room by her 9 year-old daughter, Regina, when the girl returned home from school shortly after 3 p.m. The girl's screams brought neighbors who summoned police.

"It was a very, very, very brutal stabbing," said one police investigator. Homicide detectives said the victim had been stabbed repeatly in the head, neck and upper body. No weapon was found, they said.

Investigators said there was no sign of forced entry to the second-floor apartment at 5574 B St., and no evidence to suggest burglary or robbery. They declined to speculate on a motive for the killing.

Residents of the building said that when the daughter returned home from school, she opened the apartment door with a key she carried on a string around her neck.

"I heard her scream," said Annie Taylor, a neighbor. "She said, "Mrs. Taylor, a neighbor. "She said, Mrs. Taylor come here. Something happened to my mom.'"

Taylor met the child in the hall and they entered the apartment.

"Blood was everywhere," Taylor said. She said Lampkins' body was fully clothed and lying on a sofa cushion on the floor. Taylor said she closed the door and went to her apartment to call the police.

Neighbors and coworkers of Lampkins were shocked by the slaying.

"She was a very nice woman," said Taylor. "She was very quiet."

"She was the essence of humility -- a very humble person," said the Rev. Rodney Young, pastor of Johnson Memorial Baptist Church, where Lampkins sang in the choir.

According to neighbors, Lampkins' husband, James, died about a month ago. The couple had lived with their two daughters, Regina and Lisa, 10, in the apartment since 1968.

Lampkins was last seen by other building residents about 8:30 a.m. yesterday when she asked a neighbor to look out for Regina when the child returned home from school. Lampkins was scheduled to go to work at noon yesterday as a cashier at Lerner Shops at 1111 F St. NW.

According to the store manager, Lampkins did not report for work or telephone to say that she would not be in.

Lampkins had worked for the Lerner chain for about seven years, Taylor said. James Lampkins had been employed by Washington Terminal Company.

The children were being cared for last night by relatives.