To her family, Beverly Anita Thompson's death is more, much more, than an unsolved case of homicide. The partly burned body of the 25-year-old Northeast woman, mother of an 18-month-old boy, was found in a burning apartment early Tuesday. She had been beaten and strangled.

Her father, Chester Thompson, a deeply religious man who suffers from diabetes, asthma and cataracts, last saw her on Jan. 11. Along with wanting to know who killed his youngest child and why, he said yesterday he wants to fill in the gaps in his knowledge of his daughter's last days. He wants to know why his daughter recently grew lax in caring for her son Steven, and why she would disappear for days on end.

Thompson said he did not call police to report her absence because he expected her to show up one day, as she had done before. Furthermore, she was a grown woman, not a child.

"What could I have done?" Thompson asked. "It took this for me to know what I could have done. A lot of times she'd leave, she was with her friends, and she would come back and she was all right."

Police said yesterday they have no suspects in the slaying and no motive, but they are investigating the possibility that Beverly Thompson was sexually assaulted.

Her son Steven romped through the family's home on Emerald Street NE yesterday while his grandfather received visitors and tried to decipher the mystery.

Beverly Thompson was enrolled in a job training program that was to enable her to work at a supermarket, her father said. She also was a reservist with the 260th Military Police Brigade of the U.S. National Guard.

Recently, her father noticed a change in her. He worried that she may have become involved with drugs.

"I don't know it, I suspect it," he said. "There was not too much to indicate that she was except what had taken place in the last two months. She was a good mother as far as taking care of her baby. She had become a little lax with that.

"She wasn't as attentive to the baby. She stayed away from home more. It had to be something to bring about the change, whether it was drugs or she was deeply involved in something else, I don't know."

Thompson was away from home Jan. 4 through 10, her father said. Monday morning, Jan. 11, he woke her at 7, but she said she did not have to be in class until 10.

Chester Thompson, a retired government security guard who brought up his six children alone after his wife left a number of years ago, talked to his daughter that morning about her absence from home.

"You're protected if you're here," he said he told her. "But I can't protect you if you're not here."

Beverly Thompson left that morning. She did not go to her class, which she attended with her sister Mary, 26. During the week that followed, several of Beverly Thompson's friends called. They didn't know where she was either.

Chester Thompson did not see his daughter again until her body was removed from an unoccupied and burning apartment at 304 Oklahoma St. NE, and he was called to identify her body at the morgue.

A sense of helplessness has set in at the Thompson home and Chester Thompson said he is "mad." Crime must be stopped, he said. City officials must do more to help, he said. Asked to elaborate, he said, "I'm going to do my daughter's eulogy, and what I have to say I will say then."