A Marine Corps sergeant was arrested yesterday and charged with murdering a woman officer earlier this week on the Quantico Marine Base.

Sgt. Charles D. Owens was accused of strangeling Capt. Patricia M. Barnett, 38, and leaving her body in a wooded area near the base's bachelor officers' quarters, base officials said.

Barnett's body was discovered there Wednesday afternoon after she failed to appear at a military school she was attending at the Prince William County base.

Owens, who is assigned to Quantico, was being held in jail here last night, base officials said. They declined to release other details about him or the officer's death.

Medical authorities were reported continuing an autopsy on the woman's body at the Bethesda Naval Hospital, an examination that is not expected to be completed unitl Monday.

She had been attending a two-week computer training session at Quantico, officials said. Barnett was normally assigned to Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Military officials searched the 55,000-acre military base after Barnett failed to show up for class Wednesday morning. Her body was found at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon by military police.

Barnett's husband, Marine Capt. E. C. Barnett of Camp Lejeune arrived at Quantico Thursday after learning of his wife's death. He could not be reached for comment yesterday. The investigation into the incident is being conducted by the Naval Investigative Service.