She seemed to live three lives.
One was the life of Dorothea Lane Cutts II, whose father was a brigadier general in the Marines and whose mother's family tree included distinguished Americans dating back to the early 19th century.
Another was the life of Donita L. Cutts, an aggressive businesswoman who had worked her way up in the real estate world and was investing in her own property.
Finally, there was the life of Dee Cutts, friendly neighbor, a vivacious and outgoing single 38-year-old who had lots of friends.
Enemies? "If she had any I didn't know them," he former didn't know them," he former words were echoed by others.
But sometime between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Saturday, someone entered Cutts' lavishly restored 19th century home at 125 Wolfe St. in Old Town Alexandria and killed her, Police sources say.
Cutts' bound and gagged body was found by firemen called to the house at 5:30 a.m. The body had been stuffed behind a basement furnace, and was lying in a puddle of blood, firemen said. It was almost an hour after they arrived at the scene that firemen found the body while trying to clear smoke out of the basement. The medical examiner's autopsy report was scheduled to be released today.
Police remained baffled by the apparent murder-arson yesterday. "For all intents and purposes we're right on square one," detective John Turner said."It's hard to make much progress on a weekend."
Police are trying to contact all of Cutt's close friends, including a former boyfriend. Turner said police would like to question this man to get more details about a civil suit Cutts against him in 1976 shortly after Cutts broke off the relationship.
In the meantime, friends, relatives and acquaintances remained stunned and puzzled by Cutts' violent death.
"I haven't been able to get her out of my mind" said Mary Alfonte, who had worked with Cutts at an Alexandria realty firm. "This whole thing doesn't make any sense. She was strong and agressive and in good shape, she jogged all the time.
"I can't believe she wouldn't put up a fight or scream or something. It just wasn't like her to be docile. I don't understand it."
Alfonte described Cutts as "always friendly and outgoing, always willing to try things," she said that the two of them had planned to go out early Saturday morning to look at some property in Alexandria that Cutts was thinking of purchasing.
They were supposed to leave at 7 a.m. Cutts' body was discovered at 6:15 a.m.
Born in Charleston, S.C., in 1940, Cutts grew up on her parents' 200-acre estate "Dondoric Farm," in The Plains, in Fauquier County. She was brought up much like her mother, Doeorhea Lane Cutts, first attending boarding school in Baltimore, then Briarcliff Junior College in New York and then, college in Switzerland, the University of Geneva.
Her father Richard Malcolm Cutts who died in 1973, was a brigadier general in the Marines, who had served as an aide to President FranklinD. Roosevelt. Along with his father, Col. Richard Malcolm, Cutts, Gen. Cutts was credited with inventing an anti-recoil device for firearms. Cutts was descended from a family that included a man who married Dolley Madison's sister.
Dorothea Lane's fahter was a great-great-grandson of Francis Scott Key and her marriage to the then Lt. Cutts in 1934 was a major social event, heavily covered in Washington's society columns.
Dorothea Lane Cutts was resting at Dondoric yesterday, being cared for by relatives. A nephew, John T. Wainwright, said she was "doing much better today."
Donita Cutts - she used the name Donita from childhood on to distinguish herself from her mother - always loved antiques. She owned two antique shops in The Plains during the 1960s but sold them when she moved to Alexandria to become a real estate agent in 1968.
She worked first at Jacob and Roberts Real Estate and then became office manager for Goddin about two years ago.
Contributing to this story was Washington Post staff writerJackson Diehl.