TN Deputy’s Body Found in River

Searchers located the body of Meigs County Sheriff's Office Deputy Robert "R.J." Leonard after finding his patrol vehicle submerged in the Tennessee River earlier.

Late Thursday searchers located the body of Meigs County Sheriff's Office Deputy Robert "R.J." Leonard after finding his patrol vehicle, and a deceased woman who had been in custody, submerged in the Tennessee River.

His remains were escorted to the Knoxville Regional Medical Examiner’s Office by motor units with the HCSO, Tennessee Highway Patrol, and the Chattanooga Police Department, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office reported in a social media post.

Friday, his body was escorted back from Knoxville by Meigs County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

Leonard and the detained woman both died when the deputy inadvertently drove into the river Wednesday night.

District Attorney Russell Johnson confirmed on Friday that the woman, whose body was still in the back of the deputy’s patrol car, was still handcuffed when found.

“The person found in the backseat compartment area of deputy’s vehicle was covered in a deep layer of mud and silt. When the body was transported, it was apparent that it was a female, and that she was handcuffed. So she was in custody as was speculated from the Deputy Leonard’s calls to dispatch,” Jonson told WTVC.   

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