Body of missing Tenn. sheriffs deputy found after cruiser discovered in river with another body inside

Body of missing Tenn. sheriff’s deputy found after cruiser discovered in river with another body inside

Deputy Robert J. Leonard was in his first year serving with the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office

Deputy Sheriff Robert J. Leonard died after going missing under mysterious circumstances on Wednesday night in Meigs County, Tennessee. Leonard was a first year deputy with the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputy went missing after responding to call of disturbance on Wednesday night

On Wednesday evening, Leonard responded to a call reporting a disturbance near the Birchwood Community in southern Tennessee. After arriving on the scene, Leonard made an arrest. He was last heard from while transporting the arrestee to jail.

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Deputy’s patrol car found submerged in Tennessee River on Thursday

On Thursday, searchers made the shocking discovery of Leonard’s patrol vehicle overturned and submerged in the Tennessee River near the Blythe Ferry Boat Ramp in Birchwood. The trunk had blown open from the water pressure.

Body of woman recovered from backseat believed to be Leonard’s arrest

Inside the submerged cruiser, the body of a woman covered in mud was found in the back seat. Authorities believe the woman was the individual arrested by Leonard the night before, however they have not yet confirmed her identity. No body was found in the driver’s seat, but the window was rolled down.

Massive search effort launched after discovery of car

After locating the patrol car, multiple agencies began extensively searching the Tennessee River and surrounding areas for any sign of the missing deputy.

Voice analysis picks up deputy saying “water” over radio before going silent

Due to poor cell service in the heavily wooded area, officers had limited communication with Leonard after his arrest. However, using voice analysis tools, investigators picked up Leonard saying “water” over his radio before he went silent.

Officials say outcome likely not good despite holding out hope

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, District Attorney General Russell Johnson said “we don’t think the outcome is going to be good for Deputy Leonard.” However, authorities said they would not give up hope of finding him alive.

Body pulled from river around 6:30 p.m. Thursday confirmed to be Leonard

Tragically, search crews recovered Leonard’s body from the Tennessee River around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday evening. His body was transported to Knoxville as the investigation continued into his mysterious death.

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First year deputy last heard from saying “Arrest” in text to wife

Prior to his disappearance, Leonard had sent a one-word text to his wife Wednesday night that simply read “Arrest,” indicating he had taken someone into custody.

Unclear what initial disturbance call was about that led to arrest

The details about the reported disturbance that prompted Leonard’s response and subsequent arrest remain unclear. Authorities have not revealed what the deputy encountered when he arrived on scene or why he made an arrest.

Poor cell service in area limited communication before disappearance

Due to poor cellular service in the heavily forested area where the disturbance was reported, officers had limited communication with Leonard after his arrest. Only the single word “water” could be discerned using voice analysis tools.

Investigation ongoing though officials expect tragic outcome

While the recovery of Leonard’s body provides some closure, the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deputy’s death remains ongoing. Though officials indicated early on they expected a tragic outcome, questions linger about what transpired that night to lead to the officer’s drowning. Authorities continue piecing together the events to understand exactly what happened to the first year deputy.

In conclusion, the death of Deputy Robert Leonard underscores the dangers law enforcement officers face on every call they respond to. Though details are still emerging, his drowning appears a tragic case of an officer being caught off guard by a threat that cost him his life. The recovery of Leonard’s body brought immense heartache to his family and colleagues, who must now mourn the loss of a dedicated deputy. While the circumstances show there are still unknowns, the Meigs County community can take some solace knowing Leonard has been returned to his loved ones.

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FAQs

Q: How long had Leonard served as a deputy?

A: Leonard was in his first year with the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office at the time of his death.

Q: Where was Leonard’s patrol car found?

A: The vehicle was found overturned and submerged in the Tennessee River near the Blythe Ferry Boat Ramp.

Q: What was the last communication from Leonard?

A: He sent a one-word text to his wife that said “Arrest.”

Q: Has the woman found in the backseat been identified?

A: Authorities believe she was the person arrested by Leonard but have not confirmed her identity.

Q: When was Leonard’s body recovered?

A: Search crews pulled his body from the Tennessee River around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday evening.

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