GBI waiting for more information in missing woman case

Arletha Bennett:



Georgia Bureau of Investigation officials said Tuesday the agency is waiting on information from Waynesboro police before it can end its involvement in the case of a woman found dead Saturday who was missing for nearly a month.

Special Agent in Charge Pat Morgan said the agency has completed witness interviews and is finishing its own case work. Once the GBI receives background information from the Waynesboro Police Department, Morgan said, the agency will consult with District Attorney Ashley Wright on its findings.

“With this being a natural death, that will probably be about it,” Morgan said on the GBI’s involvement in the case.

Burke County Coroner Susan Salemi said Monday that 77-year-old Arletha Diane Bennett, a retired school teacher, died from natural causes. She attributed the cause of death to senility with Alzheimer’s and probable hypothermia.

Since the body did not display any signs of trauma or foul play, the GBI medical examiner in Atlanta told Salemi that no autopsy will be performed. The body was turned over to Phinazee & Son Funeral Home in Waynesboro on Tuesday, Salemi said.

Bennett was found in the laundry room of a residence at 1144 Herman Lodge Blvd. Authorities received a call about 2 p.m. Saturday after Wayne Jenkins and James Salisbury, who lives at the home, found Bennett.

Bennett, who had been missing since Jan. 16, lived several houses down on the same street where her body was found.

Waynesboro Police Chief Augustus Palmer III didn’t return phone calls from The Augusta Chronicle late Tuesday seeking information on the circumstances surrounding Bennett’s discovery.

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