An 82-year-old widow who had been beaten twice before during burglaries at her Mount Pleasant house died last night after being bludgeoned in her home, apparently after another break-in.
Anastasia Neumann, of the 2000 block of Park Road NW, died at Washington Hospital Center shortly after 9:30 p.m., about an hour after being found in her house. A police officer at the scene said she had been beaten "beyond recognition."
Neumann is the third elderly Northwest Washington resident to be attacked at home in recent weeks, and the second to be killed during a burglary. Soloman Roziner, 81, was beaten to death in his house on 13th Street last week.
Police said last night that they would investigate the possibility that the killings are related. They said they had no suspects in Neumann's death.
Residents of the quiet neighborhood on the edge of Rock Creek Park said Neumann was a widow who lived alone in an apartment on the first floor of her house, which was divided into three units.
Neighbors said she had lived in the same house since 1954, and was known for her dedication to physical fitness, working in her garden almost daily. They said she had once worked for the Woodward and Lothrop department stores.
"She was old, but she was still very active," said Jaroslav Nemec, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1952. "She was very sweet, very quiet."
Neighbors and police said that Neumann's home had been burglarized and she had been beaten twice during the summer of 1989, and that her house was burglarized again in recent months.
After the second burglary in 1989, Neumann had steel bars installed on her windows, neighbors said. But they said she refused to allow the incidents to drive her from her home.
"She showed a lot of courage," said one neighbor who asked not to be identified. "She didn't want anyone running her out of her house."
Officials said police officers found Neumann in a rear stairwell about 8:30 p.m. after they responded to a report of a burglary. They said the first floor of the three-story row house had been ransacked.
Investigators said they could not determine how a burglar got into the house, as there were no signs of forced entry.
Neumann's house is the last on the block and is directly next to the park, which neighbors said may have made her home more susceptible to crime. "That's the problem," one neighbor said. "Everybody here enjoys living near the forest, but it has been a bit of a concern."
The other beating victim, Roziner, had lived in his house in the 5000 block of 13th Street for at least 60 years, neighbors said. He was found dead Oct. 24.
In the third incident, Lena Nead, 89, was shot in the chest Oct. 15 when she opened the door of her Cleveland Park home. She was released from the hospital the next day.
Last night, Nemec, who said he is in his eighties, was too stunned by the death to worry about the attacks on elderly residents.
"She was such a nice person, such a very good friend," he said. "We will miss her."