Two weeks after Margararet Goehring was shot to death, Fairfax County detectives are still searching for a suspect and a possible motive in the murder of the young Justice Department employe found near her abandoned car in a remote area.
The fully-clothed body of Goehring, 27, a paralegal at Justice for the past year, was discovered May 26 about 20 feet from her vehicle near the deadend of Tinners Hill Road, a secluded residential section near Falls Church.
An autopsy revealed that Goehring died of a single gunshot wound. Investigators said there was no evidence of sexual assault or a robbery attempt, and no weapon has been found.
"In many respects it's a very weird case," said a police spokesman yesterday. "It's a real whodunit. We haven't ruled anything out at this point."
Among the factors being considered is the nature of Goehring's work, according to police. Goehring was assigned to a sensitive Justice study of the oil industry's pricing policies, and had top-secret clearance as part of her job.
"We can's state conclusively at this point that it didn't have some connection," the police spokesman said. "I can't say that her work as a lead is not being investigated."
David Brown, Goehring's immediate superior at Justice, said she was working with the energy section of the department's antitrust division, "dealing specifically with oil in the Persian Gulf."
It involved the study of documents from American oil companies, attempting to uncover monopolistic activities and the possible manipulation of prices and supplies, according to Brown.
"She did have access to highly confidential documents, always in cooperation with the oil companies involved," Brown said. "It is a project that will continue until 1980 or longer."
Brown said it has "crossed out minds" that there may have been some connection between Goehring's death and the nature of her work. "I spent some time looking over my shoulder after the incident involving Meg, but we prefer to think that this isn't the reality of the situation."
"I'm certain she never discussed our work with anyone. She wasn't the type to shoot her mouth off," he added.
Acquaintances described Goehring, a Dallas native and a 1974 graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, as outgoing, opinionated, with a "tenacious grip intellectually." She shared a house in Arlington with two roommates.
"She spent time in England some time ago," said a friend at Justice who asked to remain anonymous. "In the latter part of 1976 she worked at the Library of Congress doing congressional research, but I don't have any further details on that."
A co-worker, Juanita Somers, said Goehring was "especially careful and conservative."
"She never left her car doors unlocked, or offered rides to strangers. She didn't even go out for lunch. She always ate it at the office. She wasn't the type to go out alone or anything like that."
A source close to the investigation said Goehring was seen at Seven Corners Shopping Center off Rte. 50 as early as 1 p.m. on May 26. She was alone at the time, the source said.
Shortly after 3 o'clock, residents of the Tinners Hill area watched a vehicle drive past their homes with a woman identified as Goehring at the wheel. In the car beside her was a man of undetermined age, dressed in a black jacket.
Some witnesses described the situation as suspicious, saying that unfamiliar vehicles are a rarity along the sparsely populated stretch of deadend road.
The car continued on toward the deadend section of the roadway.
"Shortly after the car went by, one or two gunshots were heard," said a police spokesman shortly after the shooting. "But there were conflicting statements on that. The victim was only shot once."
One of the Tinners Hill residents interviewed after the incident, Hattie Murray, 64, died in a house fire of undetermined origin last Thursday.
"We had never seen those people before," Mrs. Murray said after the shooting. "Then we heard the gunshot. We weren't about to go down and look ourselves, but we called the police right after that. It's a shame that this had to happen around here."
In the apparent belief that customers at the Seven Corners Shopping Center may have seen Goehring with her assailant, a source said several police cars, plainclothes detectives and uniformed officers blocked the exits to the facility.
"It was a real 'dragnet' situation. They were stopping everyone who left to ask them if they had seen something unusual," the source said.
The source also said Goehring may have known her assailant, "though that has not been substantiated."
There was evidence that the assailant escaped through the woods after the shooting, a police spokesman said. But police have been unwilling to release other details of the case, including the location of the fatal wound.
Goehring's funeral was last Monday in Dallas.
"Even though she had been employed here for only 10 months, we had recommended her for a special achievement award for her diligence on the job," Brown said last week.
"I'd like to see that award given to her posthumously, as a memento for her parents." CAPTION: Picture, MARGARET GOEHRING