The 17-year-old youth who discovered the body of a slain Silver Spring woman last week has been arrested and charged with murdering her.

Charles D. Terry of 12113 Cove Cir. was arrested Sunday in connection with the death of Louise Pickering, 56, -- his mother's best friend -- who died of stab wounds and injuries to the head.

Betty Hargus, Pickering's best friend and co-worker at the Irish Inn in Silver Spring, sent her son to Pickering's apartment at 11424 Stewart La. with a key Thursday morning after Pickering failed to arrive for her 10 a.m. shift.

When her son returned 30 minutes later with the news, Hargus raced to the nearby apartment, screaming hysterically. She found Pickering lying face down in the living room, clad only in a green bathrobe.

The arrest was made according to police, after investigators received information from friends of Hargus.

Hargus declined comment yesterday.

"Louise and Betty were very, very close," said one associate. Hargus, according to friends nearly collapsed at Pickering's funeral yesterday in Hyattsville. "She is in bad shape."

Terry is being held in the Montgomery County Detention Center pending a bond hearing. In a brief appearance yesterday before District Court judge Rosayln Bell, the sandy-haired youth -- who occasionally has worked as a dishwater at the Irish Inn -- sat tensely on the edge of his chair, wringing motive for the killing. Robbery and rape already have been ruled out, they said.

Yesterday, friends of the slain woman gathered at the Irish Inn where she had worked as a waitress. The attractive dark-haired woman, was also part owner of the popular night spot at 11305 Lockwood La., Silver Spring.

"She (Pickering) was a wonderful person," said Rick Dyer who lives in an apartment beneath the dead woman's. The night of her murder, Dyer said, he heard "thumping and banging" coming from Pickering's apartment.

The events leading to the bizarre killing remain a mystery. Pickering, a widow who liked country music, and drank 7-Up and whiskey, left the Irish Inn last Wednesday at 5 p.m., friends said.

Around 9:15 p.m. Dyer and Linda Tompkins, who live directly below Pickering's apartment, heard noises coming from upstairs. "It sounded like furniture being thrown," Dyer said.

He climbed the flight of stairs three separate times and knocked on Pickering's olive metal door, but each time there was no answer and the noises stopped, Dyer said.

He did not call the police. "I didn't want to embarrass the lady if she had just been drinking," Dyer recalled.

When Betty Hargus found Pickering's body and screamed Thursday morning, Dyer ran upstairs.

"I don't know what I felt," he said. "I was in shock, I guess."

Police found stab wounds in Pickering's neck and signs that she had been beaten about the face.

At the Irish Inn yesterday, friends and customers remembered Louise Pickering as a "lovely waitress."

"It's very sad," said one restaurant patron."This is a real tragedy."