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91-Year-Old Viola Drath Was Murdered In Her Georgetown Home Friday; Husband Albrecht Muth Arrested

8:05 PM, Aug 17, 2011   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Wednesday, Albrecht Muth was ordered held without bail pending a hearing next month in the murder of 91-year-old Viola Drath.

During the hearing, Muth tried to respond to the affidavit himself. "It is my understanding of your legal system that under your legal system I can respond to my own affidavit. I object strongly," said Muth.

The judge stepped in.

Muth's lawyer said there was no evidence in the charging documents that linked him to the murder, adding, "He is being charged because he is the only one who can be charged. He is the husband."

Muth became emotional during the hearing when the prosecutors read a letter recovered during detectives' search at Drath's house dating April 11, 2011 instructing executors of Drath's will to give him $150,000 or more, depending on the liquid assets of her estate.

He was also visibly upset when prosecutors started talking about a domestic violence dispute in 2004 in which he allegedly told the person he was in a relationship with: "I can make you go away by killing you."

Muth, Drath's husband, was arrested Tuesday at 7:51 p.m. at 33rd and P Streets, NW, pursuant to an arrest warrant for murder 2.

READ: Charging Documents (PDF)

According to the charging documents, Drath, an advocate for American-German relations and a former journalist, was found Friday morning, dead on the bathroom floor of her home in the 3200 Block of Q Street.

On Saturday, Drath's husband reportedly emailed her obituary to the Washington Post, saying her death was caused by head trauma resulting from a fall. That same day, an autopsy revealed injuries inconsistent with a fall, according to police and investigators found no evidence of forced entry into the couple's home.

On Saturday, August 13, the Chief Medical Examiner for the District of Columbia pronounced the death a homicide.  The charging documents state Drath's injuries included bruises to the neck and scalp, fractured ribs, and a torn thumbnail; "Dr. Revercomb concluded that the decedent's death was caused by strangulation and blunt force injuries..."

In his last email correspondence with 9NEWS NOW, Muth gave a timeline for his activities Thursday and Friday. He wrote:

"...I was in the house 945PM, 11 August - 8AM, 12 August, when I found her
but for walking 2 cigars for one hour, 11PM-Midnight/ 11/12 Aug
and again same drill, 7-8AM, 12 August, Times approximation within 15 minutes
I am told sometime between 8PM/ 8 AM she was killed.
I was in the house, or walking, while someone killed my wife! Or, she was dead at time of my arrival, 945PM, 11 August.
In either case, I failed her, she being dead, Im alive."

In response to the arrest of Albrecht Gero Muth, the family released the following statement:

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our mother and grandmother, Viola Drath. Her intelligence, independence and grace remained intact to the end. Our family is incredibly appreciative of the excellent work of the Metropolitan Police Department, in particular Detectives Gus Giannakoulis and James Wilson."

- The Drath Family

9NEWS NOW traded more than a half dozen emails with Muth Tuesday. In our exchanges, he said police told him he was the only suspect in his wife's murder, but also believed he was going to be ruled out as a suspect, just hours before he was arrested. 

Drath's murder in her stately Georgetown home has uncovered serious allegations of violence involving her husband, more than 40 years her junior. And now, court records reveal Muth had a tumultuous five-year relationship with another man during his marriage.

In an email to 9NEWS NOW reporter Andrea McCarren, Muth wrote: "He was the boy, she was the wife. You have the one for one set of reasons, the other for another. The lives were fully integrated. We went on trips together."

Like Muth's wife, his gay lover sought and won protection from the court after his relationship with Muth allegedly turned violent.

Drath's death has revealed several reports of domestic violence inside the couple's Georgetown home. In another email, Muth acknowledged his guilt after a 1992 assault conviction.

He wrote: "I had beaten her, and all went by the books. I take no issue. I shall always regret, that under U.S. legal advice, I pleaded not guilty."

Muth says other accusations of violence, made by his late wife and his former lover are "pure fabrications."

When asked directly whether he had killed his wife, Muth replied, "No, I am not associated with the murder of my wife. Other than that, I was not there to prevent it. I failed my wife." 

Monday, neighbors said police had been called to Drath's Georgetown home at least 3 times since December of last year.

"I've witnessed at least several, 3 or 4 actually, instances when the police have come for some sort of domestic disturbance," said neighbor Laura Bowling.

Court records indicated domestic violence cases dating back to 1992. A 2008 case against Muth notes that the victim is currently in the hospital and unable to appear in court. A stay away order was filed and later lifted.

The affidavit paints a scene of extraordinary violence in which Muth allegedly beat Drath over the head with a chair, threw her off a couch, pounded her head into the floor and sat on her for five to 10 minutes. At the time, she was 86. He was 42. The case was never prosecuted.

"I never heard anything going on next door except for occasional parties that seemed very controlled," said neighbor Susan Jones.

We also found three other cases against Muth, under the first name Albert instead of Albrecht. One involved allegations of domestic violence, for which he pleaded guilty. Two others involved threats and an assault.

Drath and her husband of more than 20 years raised eyebrows as they walked along Georgetown's upscale streets, not just for their age difference, but for Muth's eccentric clothing.

"The outfits were definitely bizarre. Some of the neighbors refer to him as Colonel Mustard," shared Bowling.

Online, Muth describes himself as a secret agent, diplomat and militia leader who also goes by the name Sheik Ali Al-Muthaba. He blogs about the Iraqi military and is critical of the U.S. approach to the Taliban.

The Iraqi Embassy released the following statement Wednesday:

"We are deeply troubled by Mr. Muth's claim of his service in the Iraqi military. He is not currently and has never been a member of the Iraqi Army. He does not represent the Embassy, its attaches, the government of Iraq, or any government institution in any fashion. In the past, the Embassy was aware of the claims made by Mr. Muth and made it clear to all concerned that they were false and demanded that they must cease."

Muth may also have a troubled financial history. In 2006, the IRS placed a $68,000 lien on the house.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call police at (202) 727-9099 or 1-888-919-CRIME (1-888-919-2746).

The Metropolitan Police Department is currently offering a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone that provides information which leads to the arrest and conviction of a future suspect. Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to DC CRIME SOLVERS at 1-800-673-2777 and to the department's TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411.

If the information provided by the caller to the Crime Solvers Unit leads to an arrest and indictment, that caller will be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

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