Viola Drath strangled, police say

The husband of 91-year-old killed socialite Viola Drath, Albrecht Muth, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Viola Drath.

Charging documents issued Wednesday say that he had scratches on his face that detectives believe are evidence of a struggle. Drath, a German-born journalist and socialite, was killed by blunt force trauma and strangulation.

Authorities allege Muth, who claimed to be an Iraqi general, was living off an allowance from his wife that had recently been reduced.

Muth’s court appearance Wednesday was just as odd as his previous behavior. He demanded the court read his arrest warrant affidavit out loud. He shook his head at parts, even tried to object, and at one point took a step towards the judge, but was pulled back the marshals.

“I understand, in your legal system, I have the right to make an objection,” Muth said in court. “I would like to do that now.”

The judge declined the request.

The body of Drath appeared to be strangled, with bruising and abrasions on her neck, bruises on her scalp, as well as a fracture neck cartilage and fractured ribs, according to police.

The victim’s family was in the courtroom, choking up when details of Drath's injuries were read. They did not talk to reporters.

A police affidavit also says Muth's DNA was found at the scene. It says Drath's signature was forged on a letter that Muth presented to Drath's relatives stating that Muth was entitled to $150,000 if Drath were to die.

Detectives allege the German-born Muth, who claimed to be an Iraqi general and apparently used the alias Count Albi, was unemployed, and receiving a $2000-a-month allowance from his wife.

The document claims that allowance had recently been reduced.

On Wednesday,{ }Magistrate Judge Karen Howze ordered Muth held until Sept. 2 without bond.

Judge calls Muth "the only one with a motive"

During the hearing, Muth objected most to the allegation that he was accepting an allowance. At one point, Muth took a step toward the judge but marshals quickly moved him back.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner said that Muth is “the only one with motive. Period.”

Kirschner also pointed out that in the immediate aftermath of Drath’s death, Muth presented a letter to the victim’s family asking for money.

Muth’s attorney, Public Defender Dana Page, argued that Muth should be released because the case against him was circumstantial and that there was no evidence tying him to the case.

Moments before he was arrested, Muth told ABC7’s Kris Van Cleave there were no signs of forced entry at the Q Street row house. Police say he puts himself as the only other person in the home when Drath died. The court documents quote a neighbor who "heard a faint cry followed by a "sinister" laugh early Friday morning.

Drath was found dead last Friday in the bedroom of their Georgetown row house. Her family thanked police for their work Tuesday evening.

“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 said in a statement.

ABC7’s Kris Van Cleave ran into Muth on Wisconsin Avenue before the man was arrested. Muth wouldn't talk on camera, but said he believed police were not seriously considering him a suspect. There were no signs of forced entry into the home, leading him to believe it was a professional hit.

Muth previously said police told him he was a suspect.“Yes,” Muth e-mailed ABC7 on Tuesday. “And I am agreed. I am the first to look to, even though I do not benefit from her death in any form.”

In another email, one of more than a dozen exchanged with Van Cleave Tuesday, Muth writes: “to you direct, I am in no way linked to my wife's death.” The multiple emails from Muth to reporters even attracted the attention of other media outlets.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Muth Charging Document

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