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Fall listed as cause of death for journalist

- The Washington Times - Monday, August 15, 2011

The 91-year-old journalist whose death D.C. police are now investigating as a homicide died from a head injury sustained in a fall, says her husband of two decades.

The 47-year-old spouse, Albrecht Muth, submitted the information in an obituary after wife Viola Drath's death Friday in their Georgetown home.

Mr. Muth said Monday that funeral arrangements were pending but he declined to comment on why the Metropolitan Police Department announced Sunday it was investigating the death as a homicide, following the results of a medical examiner's report.

Police officials have since declined to provide additional information, including whether the homicide was related to a break-in or robbery. However, neighbor Susan Jones said she was told by police that investigators found no forced entry into Ms. Drath's home, in the 3200 block of Q Street Northwest. And a police official told The Washington Post her fatal injuries were "inconsistent with the report of a fall."

Ms. Drath, a German-born journalist, wrote columns for The Washington Times.

Born in Dusseldorf, Germany, Ms. Drath worked as a journalist and college professor and wrote numerous books. She was honored for her contributions to the German unification process and her analysis of postwar foreign policy between the United States and Germany. In her later years, she also dedicated much of her time to organizations that supported service members.

Ms. Drath was living in Lincoln, Neb., in 1947 before marrying Col. Francis S. Drath, the deputy U.S. military governor of Bavaria, for whom she worked as an interpreter. It was while living in Nebraska that she began her career in journalism, working as a correspondent for German paper Die Weltpostand for KUON-TV in Omaha.

When her first husband was appointed deputy director of the U.S. Selective Service System in 1968, she moved with him to Washington. From 1975 to 2002, she worked as a foreign correspondent for the Handelsblatt financial daily newspaper in Germany.

Ms. Drath received her master's degree in philosophy and Germanic literature from the University of Nebraska, and she taught at American University after moving to Washington.

In 2005, Ms. Drath was honored by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, where she served as a member of the Executive Committee for her efforts in the German reunification process. A year later, she was appointed to the White House Commission on Remembrance, a nonpartisan government agency that encourages Americans to honor fallen military service personnel, according to the obituary.

Her first husband died in 1986, and Ms. Drath reportedly married Mr. Muth in 1990.

In 2006, a domestic violence claim was made against Mr. Muth after an incident between him and Ms. Drath in which he allegedly hit her in the head with a chair, according to court records filed in D.C. Superior Court.

He declined Monday to discuss the incident. Mr. Muth also goes by the name Sheik Ali Al-Muthaba, according to his website, and is listed in an online directory as a secret agent and diplomat. He blogs about Middle East military issues, including those in Iraq.

Mr. Muth was charged with simple assault and possession of a prohibited weapon, but the charges were ultimately dropped.

Ms. Drath was seated in the library in their home eating when the couple got into an argument. The argument turned physical, and after striking Ms. Drath with the chair, Mr. Muth "then threw the complainant off the sofa onto the floor and pounded her head into the floor several times and sat on her for between five to seven minutes while yelling at her," court documents state.

Mr. Muth did not allow his wife to leave the house until the next morning when she went to her daughter's home and later filed a complaint with police. The charges were dropped two years later.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said he was unable to comment on the reason why the charges were dropped.

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