Edward Rusboldt had finished his college work in Indiana and about 10 days ago drove east on vacation from classes and his job. He got here late last week and was expected to fly home yesterday to attend a reception that followed a brother's wedding.

But Rusboldt never went home to Michigan City. Late Friday night he and a friend were in a group in a tavern in the Dupont Circle area. Rusboldt and a young woman left to look for her car.

About 7 a.m. authorities found Rusboldt's body in the 1900 block of Sunderland Place NW, near the circle. Relatives said they learned that Rusboldt, 23, had apparently been beaten and robbed.

Police provided few details last night. They said no cause of death had been formally determined.

If anyone witnessed the killing, which occurred in an area of the city known for nighttime activity, "I wish they would come forward and let us know," an official of the homicide squad said.

Rusboldt, 23, was a part-time student of accounting at a branch of Purdue University in Westville, Ind., near his home. In addition, his parents said, he worked full time as a truck driver and loading dock helper for a distributor of convenience items in Michigan City, a lakefront town of about 40,000.

Rusboldt, one of eight children of a service station manager, had left school to go to work, but resumed part-time studies last fall.

His father, Charles Rusboldt, said last night that he had told his son that "he wasn't going to get anywhere without an education."

On May 22, after classes were over, he took a break from his job and drove to North Carolina with a friend from home in the friend's car. It was not clear exactly when they came north to Washington. The friend was to remain here to work, but Rusboldt was to return home yesterday.

He was to return to work tomorrow, after attending the Saturday reception that followed his brother's Friday wedding.

Rusboldt's mother, Joann, was already at the reception when the news came to the family home. His father found the news hard to accept.

"It seems like he'd be walking in any time with his headset on," his father said.