A French tourist on her first trip to America, who had told friends she loved "the people of Washington and the feel of its streets," was shot and killed early yesterday in a street robbery near Dupont Circle.
Chantal Mouyal, 30, who was on vacation from her home in Paris, was shot twice by robbers who first had forced her companion from his car, robbed him of $60 and locked him in the car's trunk, according to Washington police.
Mouyal's companion, Steven Cohen of New York city, told police that after he was locked in the trunk by the three robbers he heard what sounded like a struggle and then two shots, according to police Lt. Calvin Wilson.
Passersby called police, who found Mouyal shot in the head and shoulder and Cohen locked in the trunk, police said.
Mouyal was taken to George Washington University Hospital, where she died early yesterday in the emergency room, according to a hospital spokesman.
Homicide detectives said late yesterday they had no leads in the killing, which occurred near the corner of 19th Street NW and Sunderland Place at about 3:20 a.m. "It is a hopeless feeling," said one detective, who estimated the chances of solving the crime at "20 or 30 percent."
Mouyal, a physiotherapist, had arrived last Monday in Washington, her second stop on a visit to America, according to a family friend with whom she was staying in Chevy Chase. The friend, a Washington businessman, asked not to be identified because of concern that his family might not be safe with Mouyal's assailants still at large.
The friend said Mouyal had asked him and his wife about "the safety of the city. We told her it was like anywhere else. She indicated Paris is just the same. But in Paris, you may be held up somewhere, but you won't be shot if you don't turn over your overcoat or something."
The friend said Mouyal had met Cohen, her companion Friday night, at a dinner Thursday celebrating the Jewish holiday of Passover. He described Cohen as a young doctor, recently graduated from medical school, whose family lives in Washington.
"They went to dinner in Georgetown Friday night, I think, and they drove to a place to listen to music in Dupont Circle," the friend said. He said he believed they were in Cohen's car talking, ready to head home, when they were accosted.
"The moment he Cohen was locked in the trunk, he heard her scream and the shots," the friend said he had been told by authorities. "She is a very sensible and intelligent person. She lives in Paris and is well-educated in the way of things. The scream may have been her reaction to fright. We don't really know what happened."
Before the attack early Saturday in the yellow Cadillac parked on Sunderland Place, Mouyal had been doing all the things tourists do on a springtime trip to Washington.
She had spent Tuesday visiting museums, her friend said. "She said she liked the cosmopolitan flair about the town . . . Georgetown, the parks, the museums," he recalled.
On Friday, Charles Dahan, a friend of Mouyal's hosts, said he picked her up and drove her downtown to meet a friend at the Executive Office Building, and they ate lunch in the cafeteria. "I wanted her to visit the White House and I was trying to get tickets for a tour from my friend at the EOB. I got them for Saturday."
After lunch, Dahan said he took Mouyal on a short driving tour of the District, pointing out government buildings downtown and the embassies on Massachusetts Avenue NW. He took her home and introduced her to his sister and they and some other friends then "went on a shopping spree" at White Flint Mall in North Bethesda, Dahan said.
Mouyal's Chevy Chase friend said Mouyal planned to visit Miami and Los Angeles and then, because she liked the city so much, come back to Washington before returning to Paris.
"I guess these things can't be explained," the friend said. "It is sad . . . senseless. It is over for her, but her family--how do I pick up the phone and call the family and tell them their daughter has been shot in a holdup and killed?"
The friend said he made that call to Paris yesterday, and that the French Consulate here helped to make arrangements to have Mouyal's body sent back to her home.