Tennessee Woman and Cop Reported Missing Found Dead in Submerged Patrol Car

(UnitedHeadlines.com) – The bodies of missing Meigs County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Robert “RJ” Leonard and an unidentified Tennessee woman he had taken into custody were located Feb. 15 in his submerged patrol car in the Tennessee River.

The rookie deputy had taken the woman into custody after responding to a call of a woman and man fighting on a bridge. He communicated with dispatchers that he was bringing a suspect to the county jail. The communication ended, and special techniques had to be used to determine that in his final call to dispatch Leonard said, “water.”

One of his last communications was a text message to his wife stating, “arrest.”

The Life360 that his wife had attached to his phone and satellite tracking of the patrol car were both used to help locate the patrol car in the waters of the Tennessee River off Blythe Ferry Road.

The patrol car was located Feb. 15, upside down in the river, with the trunk blown out due to the high water pressure and the driver-side window down. While the woman’s body was found in the backseat, the deputy’s body was not in the front seat and was not located until a few hours later due to the mud and murky waters. According to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, the two bodies were recovered from the river and transported to the Knoxville Regional Medical Examiner’s Office.

According to Meigs County District Attorney Russell Johnson, it appears as though Leonard was talking on the radio and texting on narrow roads that are “not well lit” and “not well marked.” He noted that it appeared Leonard tried to stop as there were skid marks at the scene.

Leonard joined the force at the beginning of the year following his December graduation from the training academy. Chief Deputy Brian Malone stated that while he was only a member of the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office for a short time, Leonard “had become a part of our family.”

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