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EATONTON, Ga. — A 71-year-old Putnam County woman, whose body was discovered floating near her home on Lake Oconee last Saturday, is believed to have drowned, authorities say.

Putnam County Sheriff Howard R. Sills identified the victim as Judith White, who lived on the 200 block of West Riverbend Drive. The residence is located east of Reynolds Lake Oconee’s Great Waters and the lake’s dam.

“Her body was found in front of her next-door neighbor’s house about [midday] Saturday,” Sills told The Union-Recorder during a telephone interview Wednesday morning.

The sheriff said the victim’s neighbor saw something floating less than 20 yards from the bank of the waters.

“He then got a closer look and saw that it was a body,” Sills said, noting that a call was made to 911 for help a short time later.

The man’s wife, who discovered the body, later texted the victim on her phone about what her husband had discovered.

The message was that her husband had discovered a body floating in the waters and they were waiting on a sheriff’s boat to get there, Sills said.

The sheriff said neither the woman who made the text nor her husband or the victim’s husband knew that it was Judith White’s body at the time.

Putnam County Deputy Coroner Hollis Harrison came to the scene and pronounced the victim dead.

The victim’s body was later taken to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory in Decatur where an autopsy was performed.

“There is no indication of any foul play,” Sills said. “This is an apparent drowning.” 

The victim’s body was recovered in about six feet of water by deputies.

Sills said the victim’s body had been in the water for several hours.

“She had a myriad of serious health issues,” Sills said. “It was a sad situation.”

The sheriff said White’s husband did not realize his wife was missing from their home until after her body had been discovered.

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