The wife of a retired top official of the World Bank was killed yesterday during a daylight burglary of the couple's home on the edge of Rock Creek Park in an affluent and secluded section of Northwest Washington.

Kitty Broches, a Dutch-born woman believed to be in her middle 60s, was found by police about 2:20 p.m. in a wooded area about 50 yards from her ransacked house at 2600 Tilden Pl. NW. Police said that she had been strangled and that it appeared she also had been beaten.

Police were called to the two-level brick house, near Pierce Mill, after a maid who had been bound during the burglary freed herself and went to the home of a neighbor to summon help.

Mrs. Broches was the wife of Aron Broches, a lawyer and specialist in arbitration of international investment disputes who retired about two years ago from the World Bank, where he was general counsel and a vice president. He is still a consultant to the bank and was reported at work downtown when the burglary occurred.

Police, who remained into the evening at the wooded cul-de-sac street on the western fringe of the park, said the burglar or burglars apparently entered the house about 2:15 p.m. through an unlocked door.

The maid, identified as Odessa Minott, was reportedly approached from behind on the second floor of the flat-roofed, western-style house. Police said she could give no description of the intruder, who they believe bound her before setting about ransacking the house. The maid was uninjured.

While noting that details about the incident were still sketchy, police said they leaned toward the theory that Mrs. Broches may have been outside the house working in her garden while the burglary was under way, and that she was encountered and attacked as her assailant was leaving.

The distance between her house and the site just off her property where her body was found suggested that she may have been struggling with her attacker and attempting to flee, investigators said.

There was a "very good possibility" that she was working in the garden, a friend said last night. Describing it as "very lovely" and a showplace, the friend said the garden on Mrs. Broches' 3/4-acre lot was "something she just got a lot of enjoyment out of" and a place where she worked frequently.

Described by another friend as a "delightful person, lovely, warm . . . " Mrs. Broches, who had established a reputation as an amateur artist and printmaker, was born in Laren, Holland, the daughter of artist Bernard Pothast.

Shortly after completing her studies in painting and sculpture at the Academie of Fine Arts in Amsterdam, she was married to Broches and the couple came to America to live more than 40 years ago. They built their house near the park in 1955.

Mrs. Broches and her husband had a son and a daughter, both now grown and living elsewhere. In an interview given when her daughter was a child, Mrs. Broches told of being "much prouder of being a Girl Scout leader than I am of being an artist."

In recent years Mrs. Broches had been concerned with designing special toys for blind children, a friend said.

Police said last night they did not know what might have been taken from the house in the burglary. They said they had no suspects.