Home US Tennessee woman found dead in the back seat of a submerged police cruiser and the body of a missing police officer discovered in the river after he was heard saying “WATER” in a chilling final message

Tennessee woman found dead in the back seat of a submerged police cruiser and the body of a missing police officer discovered in the river after he was heard saying “WATER” in a chilling final message

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A Tennessee woman was found dead in the back seat of a submerged police cruiser, shortly before the missing officer's body was recovered from the river.

A Tennessee woman was found dead in the back seat of a submerged police cruiser, shortly before the missing officer’s body was recovered from the river.

Meigs County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Robert ‘RJ’ Leonard made one last call to his office Wednesday night and said “water,” before losing all communication with the office.

Prior to Leonard’s disappearance, he responded to a report of a man and woman fighting on a bridge around 10 p.m. local time and detained a woman.

On Thursday, his patrol car was pulled from the Tennessee River and a body believed to be that of the arrested man was recovered.

Leonard’s body was found hours later near where the patrol car was removed, according to the sheriff’s office.

A Tennessee woman was found dead in the back seat of a submerged police cruiser, shortly before the missing officer’s body was recovered from the river.

On Thursday, a patrol car was pulled from the Tennessee River and a body believed to be that of the arrested person was recovered.

Robert 'RJ' Leonard (pictured left with his wife), deputy with the Meigs County Sheriff's Office, made a chilling call to dispatch Wednesday night, saying

Robert ‘RJ’ Leonard (pictured left with his wife), deputy with the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office, made a chilling call to dispatch Wednesday night, saying “water,” and subsequently lost contact with the office.

Although authorities are still working to confirm the identity of the woman recovered from the patrol car, they believe she is the woman arrested, Meigs County District Attorney Russell Johnson said.

‘There was a lot of mud. There is a body in the back seat of the car covered in a lot of mud. “A lot of mud in the front seat, but there’s no body in the front seat,” he added.

Due to the strong current and murky water, it took search teams a couple of hours to confirm whether the other body belongs to Leonard.

The MP graduated from the training academy in December last year and has since joined the force.

“Deputy Leonard had only been here for a couple of months, but he had become part of our family,” Chief Deputy Brian Malone said through tears.

“We’re going through a tough time here. It’s something we never deal with here in Meigs County,” he added.

Due to the strong current and murky water, it took search teams a couple of hours to confirm whether the other body belongs to Leonard.

'There was a lot of mud. There is a body in the back seat of the car covered in a lot of mud. Lots of mud in the front seat, but no body in the front seat

Although authorities are still working to confirm the identity of the woman recovered from the patrol car, they believe she is the woman arrested, Meigs County District Attorney Russell Johnson said.

On Thursday morning, a vehicle filled with mud was located in the Tennessee River. It was upside down, with the wheels up and the driver's side window down.

On Thursday morning, a vehicle filled with mud was located in the Tennessee River. It was upside down, with the wheels up and the driver’s side window down.

Leonard's body was found hours later near where the patrol car was removed, according to the sheriff's office.

Leonard’s body was found hours later near where the patrol car was removed, according to the sheriff’s office.

“Deputy Leonard had only been here for a couple of months, but he had become part of our family,” Deputy Chief Brian Malone said through tears.

Shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday, Leonard radioed dispatch, telling them he was headed to the county jail with a suspect.

Ten minutes later, communication with the agent was interrupted and he did not respond to a status check.

Around the same time, Leonard texted his wife saying, “arrest,” and his wife responded, “that’s great.”

“We know that his phone clearly did not receive that text message,” Johnson said.

In his last radio call, Leonard said “water,” a word that authorities had to use “special techniques” to decipher later.

“Dispatch couldn’t tell what he was saying,” Johnson said. “We think he was saying, ‘Water.'”

Satellite tracking of his vehicle and a location-sharing app on his photo led officers to Blythe Ferry Road near the Tennessee River.

“They triangulated the last position of his phone and the Life360 that his wife had connected to her phone, and it looks like they are almost in the same place,” Johnson said.

On Thursday morning, a vehicle filled with mud was located in the Tennessee River. It was upside down, with the wheels up and the driver’s side window down.

The deputy graduated from the training academy in December last year and joined the force since then.

The deputy graduated from the training academy in December last year and joined the force since then.

The devastating incident has left Leonard's wife and children distraught, as his wife shared in a social media post.

The devastating incident has left Leonard’s wife and children distraught, as his wife shared in a social media post.

Agencies across the state are still investigating the incident, but Johnson said the officer appeared to be texting and talking on the radio while driving on a treacherous road.

‘They are not well lit. They are not well signposted. They are narrow. “If you’re not paying attention, you could hit the water pretty quickly,” Johnson said.

“We’re operating under the theory that it was an accident: He missed his turn, he was unfamiliar and he was doing other things that could have caused him to fall into the water,” Johnson said.

Deputy Chief Malone stated that this is not the first accident in the area, noting a previous incident in December in which a woman survived after driving her car into the water.

The devastating incident left Leonard’s wife and children distraught, as his wife shared in a social media post.

‘Our lives have changed forever. Please continue praying. Pray harder than ever before. My heart is broken for my children and I am an absolute mess. I will start communicating when I can achieve it.

‘For now, all I can do is cry. We will love you forever RJ. 17 years is not enough for you,” she wrote.

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