GBI investigating Amtrak death

JESUP, Ga. -- The death of a Florida woman who disappeared from an Amtrak train passing through Wayne County had Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents interviewing her husband and tracking down their fellow passengers Friday.

Barbara Arteta, 63, of New Smyrna Beach, was found dead about 3:30 p.m. Thursday beside the CSX Transportation railroad tracks near U.S. 301 in south Georgia's Wayne County.

A conductor on a CSX train saw her body and notified Wayne County sheriff's deputies, said Mike McDaniel, special agent in charge of the GBI regional office in Kingsland.

An autopsy was performed at the GBI crime lab, but the results had not been released Friday evening.

"We are investigating this as a suspicious death," McDaniel said.

McDaniel said it is too early in the investigation to tell if Arteta accidentally fell, jumped or might have been pushed from the train.

"We are exploring all possibilities," he said.

Arteta, who had health problems including Parkinson's disease, was traveling with her 72-year-old husband, Eugene Arteta, overnight on the Amtrak Auto Train. They had gotten on the train Wednesday afternoon in Lorton, Va., and were scheduled to arrive in Sanford, Fla., Thursday morning, investigators said.

They were taking the train because Eugene Arteta didn't like to fly. He told investigators his wife was gone when he awoke shortly before 6 a.m. He searched the other train cars but did not find her.

He reported his wife missing to Sanford police when the train arrived there about 9 a.m., McDaniel said.

McDaniel confirmed that authorities located her purse near her body, but he declined to comment further.

 

teresa.stepzinski@jacksonville. com, (912) 264-0405

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