US police: German-born reporter Drath was murdered

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Police in Washington are investigating whether 91-year-old German-born journalist Viola Drath, who was found dead late last week in her home in Washington's upscale Georgetown neighborhood, was murdered.

Drath was found "unconscious and unresponsive" at her residence on Friday, the Washington police said in a statement.

The elderly woman's death was initially said to be an accident but a statement released Sunday by the police said that "it was determined, by a member of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the District of Columbia, that the manner of death was homicide."

News of the death of Drath, who was born in Duesseldorf in 1920 and moved to the United States with her US Army colonel husband after World War II, made the papers in Washington and Europe.

German business newspaper Das Handelsblatt, for which Drath was a correspondent, lamented the loss of the "grande dame who exuded dignity until the end" and lamented the silencing of a "great trans-Atlantic" voice.

Switzerland's Berner Zeitung ran a story headlined "Mysterious murder in Washington."

No arrests have been made in connection with the death, the public affairs department of the police in Washington told AFP.

According to the Washington Post, police detectives interviewed members of Drath's family over the weekend and combed her Georgetown home for evidence.

The Washington Post said that it had received an obituary about Drath on Saturday from an email account used by her second husband, Albrecht Gero Muth.

The Handelsblatt said Muth is a brigadier general in the Iraqi army. The Washington Post noted that Drath's second husband was more than 40 years her junior.

"In the obituary submission, Draths cause of death was listed as 'Head Trauma resulting from Fall,'" the Post wrote.

But investigators said later the elderly woman's injuries were inconsistent with a fall.

Muth was at Drath's Georgetown home when paramedics arrived Friday, the Post said.

The police department was unable to tell AFP if it was Muth who had called the emergency services who on Friday pronounced Drath dead.

In addition to her work as a journalist, Drath authored several books, lectured at a US college, was a member of the conflict resolution organization, the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and advocated for closer relations between the United States and Germany.

© 2011 AFP

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