A 33-year-old Washington man followed his estranged wife to the parking lot of her office yesterday morning, shot her four times with a hunting rifle and then shot himself, according to D.C. police.
Betty B. Rhodes, 34, of 2405 1/2 24th St. SE, was pronounced dead at 8:30 a.m. at George Washington University Hospital. Robert Earl Rhodes, 33, her husband of 10 years and an employe of the Government Printing Office, died 2 1/2 hours later.
Mrs. Rhodes was due to report for work at 8 a.m. at the C&P Telephone Co. office at 499 South Capitol St. SE, where she had been an assignment clerk for the past three years.
She pulled into the parking lot about 7:45, police said. Moments later, her husband drove up, got out of the car, and, as a few people who were in the parking lot at the time ducked for cover, he fired the rifle, according to police.
Betty Rhodes' uncle, George Cunningham, said yesterday that the couple had been separated. He said Mrs. Rhodes, who sometimes stayed at the Cunningham home, had suffered several beatings from her husband.
"He'd come here and cry and swear he loved her so much, and then she'd go back, and he'd beat up on her again," Cunningham said.
At the phone company, supervisor Patricia Harper said she wasn't aware of any personal problems Mrs. Rhodes might have been having. "She was an excellent worker, a joy to work with."
The incident was ruled a homicide-suicide by D.C. Medical Examiner James Luke.