Tennessee Woman and Missing Cop Found Dead in Submerged Patrol Car

(ReliableNews.org) – When police officers go missing while on the job, it’s a major cause for concern. That’s why when Robert Leonard, known as “RJ” failed to respond to a status check on the evening of Wednesday, February 14, authorities went searching for him. Sadly, the story has a tragic ending.

Deputy Leonard, who worked with the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office, responded to a report of two people fighting on a bridge. The encounter ended with Leonard arresting a woman, whom he placed in custody in the backseat of his patrol car. He then proceeded to drive toward the county jail, but he never made it.

Shortly after making the arrest, he texted his wife, according to Meigs County District Attorney Russell Johnson. It’s not known whether he was texting and driving at the time, but that’s the theory the officers are going on. The last contact Leonard had with dispatch came just after the message to his wife and was unintelligible, though they think he was trying to say “water.” His co-workers could not reach him after that, which sparked a search involving multiple law enforcement agencies.

Authorities finally found Leonard’s patrol car near the Tennessee River at a landing, which is noted to be treacherous. There, they found the patrol car upside down. The driver-side window was down and the vehicle was full of mud. In the backseat, they found a woman deceased, believed to be the woman he was taking into custody. She has not been identified by the Sheriff’s office.

According to Johnson, for someone unfamiliar with the area, it wouldn’t take much to lose sight of where you are and end up in the water. They have a theory that Leonard “was doing other things that may have caused him to go into the water” and noted that there were skid marks before the landing. Multiple agencies will now investigate the accident to determine what happened.

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