Waynesboro chief: Woman's death still under investigation

Arletha Bennett: Woman, 77, was found dead in the laundry room of a house on her street.

The Waynesboro, Ga., Police Department is continuing its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the discovery of a 77-year-old woman who was found dead almost a month after she was reported missing, Chief Augustus Palmer III said Wednesday.

Palmer said the department will continue to work through the information it has gathered through interviews, and will brief the family and the public of its findings at the conclusion of the investigation.

Arletha Diane Bennett, who had been missing since Jan. 16, was found in the laundry room of a home at 1144 Herman Lodge Blvd. on Saturday afternoon. Burke County Coroner Susan Sale­mi said this week that Bennett died of senility caused by Alzheimer’s and probable hypothermia. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner, however, didn’t do an autopsy on Bennett because the body did not display signs of trauma or foul play, Salemi said.

Salemi said the medical examiner told her the GBI crime lab in Atlanta is “stacked up” and is examining only bodies in which foul play is suspected.

Bennett was found several houses down from her home on Herman Lodge Boulevard. She was last seen at her home Jan. 16, and was thought to have walked away after 9 p.m.

In the weeks after her disappearance, police officers and volunteers from across the Southeast traveled to Waynesboro to assist in the search, at times using all-terrain vehicles and police helicopters.

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Waynesboro, Ga., community unites to search for missing Alzheimer's patient
Search continues for Waynesboro woman, 77

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