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UPDATE: Meigs Co. deputy’s body has been found

From Local 3 News: UPDATE: It has been confirmed the body of missing Meigs County Deputy Robert 'R.J.' Leonard was found in the Tennessee River ar

From Local 3 News: UPDATE: It has been confirmed the body of missing Meigs County Deputy Robert ‘R.J.’ Leonard was found in the Tennessee River around 6:30PM.


Leonard’s body will be transported to Knoxville Regional Medical Examiner’s Office by motor units this evening, Meigs County Chief Deputy Brian Malone says.


Malone says this is an ongoing investigation as of now.

More details are to come when more information becomes available.


UPDATE: District Attorney Russell Johnson has confirmed that the vehicle pulled out of Blythe Ferry belonged to the missing Meigs County Deputy, Robert ‘R.J.’ Leonard.


DA Johnson explained that the body of the female arrestee was located in the back seat of the car. There was no body found in the front seat, and the missing deputy has still not been located. 


He also explained that they believe the drivers window was down when the vehicle hit the water. He said he believes this was just an accident, but in that area, it’s impossible to have backup in a short amount of time. 


Meigs County Sheriff’s Office patrol car recovery

“We still don’t think the outcome will be good for Deputy Leonard.” said DA Johnson. 


Most agencies will remain on the scene until the missing deputy is located. 


“We always hope it’s a rescue. We always hold out that hope, but we also have to face the facts that are in front of us.” said Hamilton County Sheriff Austin Garrett. “We won’t lose hope for the fact that we could still recover him. It’s plain to see that he made it out of the car.”



From Local 3 News: UPDATE: The search continues for a missing Meigs County Sheriff’s Office deputy who went missing overnight.

At a Thursday morning news conference, District Attorney Russell Johnson identified the deputy as MCSO Deputy Robert ‘R.J.’ Leonard, who was with the agency for about two months.


He reported that Leonard was at home and took a call that a man was running in and out of traffic, or a man and woman fighting, on the bridge near the Blythe Ferry landing.


Leonard arrived at the scene about 9:48pm, and at 9:15pm indicated that he was taking a person to the County Jail.


DA Johnson explained that the cellular and radio signals in the area are typically not very good.

About 12 minutes later, in a radio communication, dispatchers said they heard something that could not be understood. They used analytics to determine a short time later that he may have said “water.”


Leonard also texted his wife, saying “Arrest,” marking his first arrest with the agency.


After the radio transmission, dispatcher performed a status check among all of the officers on duty.


A ping of his phone and Life360 helped determine where Leonard was located, which was Blythe Ferry Road.

Agencies from the region have joined in the search efforts. The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team and the TWRA are assisting in the search near the Blythe Ferry landing.


HCSO Sheriff Austin Garret said that a vehicle was located in the water near the boat ramp at the end of Blythe Ferry Road.


DA Johnson also explained that they had found visible skid marks from boat landing going into water. The area matches Leonard’s last known location.


Meigs County Sheriff Jackie Melton was emotional as he talked about Deputy R.J. Leonard, saying he had been on the force for two months, just getting out of the academy. Leonard was on the night shift, and was “doing a pretty good job, a real good job.”


PREVIOUS STORY: A search is underway for a Meigs County Sheriff’s deputy who was reported missing overnight.


District Attorney Russell Johnson with Tennessee’s 9th Judicial District says that multiple agencies and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will be holding a press conference at 6:00am to provide additional details.


We are working to gather more details and have a crew in Meigs County.