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Woman found in river remembered as physically active, caring

The way apartment manager Michelle Jamison remembers Connie Barta of Rochester, she was a friendly tenant who liked to stop by, talk and hang out in the pool next to the rental offices.

That's why Jamison was shocked when she heard Barta, 45, had been identified as the woman found dead Sunday morning in the Zumbro River near downtown Rochester.

There didn't seem to be any reason for concern about Barta, Jamison said. Barta was a generous person, she noted, and often brought candy to the offices at Timberland Heights in northwest Rochester. Barta listed an address at the apartment complex from 2005 through 2011.

"We just loved her," Jamison said. "She was very caring."

Barta was identified after an autopsy Monday. Olmsted County interim medical examiner Anja Roden said Tuesday that she hasn't determined Barta's cause of death or whether foul play was involved.


Roden, a Mayo Clinic pathologist, added that she didn't know how long it will take to determine how Barta died.

"It really depends on what I get back here at Mayo, if I have to do anything else, and also on the police investigation," Roden said. She added that she's also waiting for the results of toxicology testing.

Steve Barta of Minneapolis, Barta's brother, said the family didn't have any concerns about his sister's whereabouts in the days leading up to her being found in the river. The last thing he heard about her, he said, was that she had moved to a new apartment in Rochester about a month ago.

Connie Barta was in the water around 12 hours when she was discovered with no signs of trauma to her body, according to the Rochester Police Department.

"All indications are that this is a non-criminal event," said Capt. Brian Winters. "We are simply doing our due diligence, and I'm not going to conclude anything until the investigation is concluded."

The investigation so far has found no evidence that Barta was employed, Winters said. When asked about her medical history he said that she had "extensive medical issues," but declined to elaborate.

Connie Barta graduated from Montgomery-Lonsdale High School in 1985. A former classmate, Tamra Anderson Leif of Mound, Minn., said she rode the same bus as Barta, whom she remembers as possibly being on the school's cross country team.

"She was a pretty quiet girl," Leif said.


A brief obituary in The New Prague Times lists Barta's date of death as Sunday.

Funeral arrangements haven't been made because authorities haven't released Barta's body and family members are still being notified, an employee of Schoenbauer Funeral Home in Montgomery said Tuesday.

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