2014-01-29 / Front Page


No clues in search for missing woman
By Elizabeth Billips

Not a shred of evidence has surfaced.

Waynesboro police and a mass of volunteers have been searching high and low for 77-yearold Arletha Bennett since Jan. 17.

“There’s no sign of her anywhere … that’s what’s so frustrating,” Police Chief Augustus Palmer III said following a large and fruitless search in sub-freezing temperatures Friday. “But we have not given up.”

Ms. Bennett, a retired teacher who suffers from Alzheimer’s, is believed to have walked out of her Herman Lodge Boulevard home sometime after 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16.

Several months before she went missing, Chief Palmer actually met her at local barber shop where she was getting her hair cut.

“She could barely walk,” he said, remembering the difficulty she had getting across the room. “Ms. Bennett did not have the physical capability to walk any distance from her house. She is either nearby or was picked up by somebody.”

With the help of hundreds of volunteers and officers from 14 other agencies, police have scoured all of Waynesboro and beyond. Canines, ATVs, horses and helicopters have been in the mix but search after search has ended with disappointment.

Longtime friend of the fam- ily and retired Army Sgt. Louia “Beaver” Sapp was with the search party for three days.

“My mission was to find her and I thought that we would … especially that first morning. I was thinking she had gotten her clothes hung up on a gate or that she was stuck in some briers and was too weak to get loose,” he said. “As it began to get dark that first night, I began to worry.”

But Sapp, like many of the volunteers, will not give up on Ms. Bennett.

“From the beginning I felt like she was still alive. I still feel like that,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking to think about her out there scared or alone … but I still have hope.”

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