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Sheriff's Deputy Disappears Along with Person in Custody Shortly After Making His First Arrest

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The search for a Tennessee sheriff’s deputy who went missing Wednesday night after making his first arrest has focused on the Tennessee River.

Russell Johnson, district attorney for Meigs County in the southeastern part of the state, said a submerged vehicle had been located at the end of Blythe Ferry Road in Birchwood, northeast of Chattanooga, according to WTVC-TV.

Johnson said searchers found skid marks at a boat landing at the end of the road heading into the water, according to WRCB-TV.

A cellphone belonging to Meigs County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Leonard, who remains missing, was pinging in the area where the vehicle was located, police said.

Leonard had been at home Wednesday evening and took a call that there was an incident involving a man and a woman on a bridge near the Blythe Ferry boat landing, Johnson said.

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The deputy arrived at the scene at 9:48 p.m., and at 10:15 p.m., he indicated he was taking a person to the county jail.

Authorities have not identified the woman in Leonard’s custody but said she had not been located.

Sheriff Jackie Melton said the deputy had texted his wife a one-word message that said “arrest.”

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Melton said Leonard’s wife assumed that to mean he had made his first arrest as a deputy.

Johnson said that Leonard’s wife texted back a reply but the reply was never received by Leonard’s phone.

The district attorney said that shortly after Leonard told dispatchers he was bringing the woman in, a garbled radio transmission was received. One word that was heard in the transmission was “water,” Johnson said.

Leonard did not respond to further radio transmissions, leading to a search for him.

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Johnson said the area is remote, leading to difficulty with cellphone and radio transmission.

Leonard is originally from New York. He and his wife have three children, officials said.

The deputy has been with the department for about two months, according to WRCB.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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