Body of missing Waynesboro woman found in neighboring home

Arletha Bennett: Retired teacher, 77, had been missing since Jan. 16.

 

The body of a 77-year-old Waynesboro woman who has been missing since Jan. 16 was found in the laundry room of a neighboring house Saturday, police say.

Arletha Diane Bennett, a retired teacher and Alzheimer’s patient who was last seen leaving her home on Herman Lodge Boulevard in January, was found dead inside a home on the same street, Waynesboro Police Chief Augustus Palmer III said.

No arrests have been made, Palmer said, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been called in to assist the Waynesboro Police Department in the investigation. However, a man who lived at the house where Bennett’s body was found was taken into custody by authorities, according to a next door neighbor.

The body was removed by authorities around 7 p.m., according to the neighbor, who didn’t want to be named. The neighbor said Bennett lived eight houses down from the Herman Lodge Boulevard house her body was found in Saturday afternoon.

The neighbor said a large scale search for Bennett on Jan. 24 by paramedics, firefighters, police officers and volunteers went by that house.

“He was quiet,” the neighbor said of the man taken into custody. “An average person.”

Bennett was a 35-year veteran of the Burke County School System and was known for her caring but orderly approach to education and life.

In the weeks following her disappearance, police officers and volunteers from across the southeast travelled to Waynesboro to assist in the search, at times using all-terrain vehicles and police helicopters to cover the surrounding rural area.

Waynesboro police frequently turned to social media during the search for help, urging citizens to check any sheds, cars, buildings and wooded areas where Bennett might have sought shelter.

Last week, Bennett’s family increased the reward for any information leading toward Bennett’s discovery to $10,000.

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