FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS ANNOUNCED FOR FALLEN MEIGS COUNTY DEPUTY

Funeral arrangements have been announced for fallen Meigs County Deputy Robert “RJ” Leonard.

A public visitation will be held Monday, February 19, 2024, from 4 until 7 p.m. at the Meigs County High School at 105 Abel Avenue in Decatur, Tennessee. The funeral service will follow.

Deputy Leonard will be laid to rest on Tuesday, February 20, 2024, at the Decatur Cemetery. There will not be a visitation before the graveside service.

A funeral procession will depart from Decatur Funeral Home at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday. Because of limited parking at the cemetery, community members and first responders are asked to line the processional route to honor Deputy Leonard.

The funeral procession will leave Decatur Funeral Home on Arrants Road at 12:15 p.m. From Arrants Road, they will merge right on River Road and then Left on Highway 58. From Highway 58 the procession will turn right on Z Street and then right on Main Street. From Main Street, the procession will turn right onto Abel Avenue and take the 2nd entrance into the Decatur Cemetery.

There will only be parking available for family and friends at the cemetery. Anybody else attending the graveside service will need to park outside of the cemetery and walk in.

The obituary for Deputy Leonard is as follows:

Robert John “R.J.” Leonard, Jr., age 35, of Decatur, formerly of Hannibal, New York, unexpectedly passed away on Thursday, February 15, 2024.

R.J. did construction for most of his life, until recently moving to Tennessee to pursue his dream of becoming a police officer. Upon completing the police academy, he became a deputy sheriff at the Meigs County Sheriff’s Department, where he instantly became part of the family. He truly loved his brothers and sisters in blue. He also loved sports, especially football (Go Eagles), boating, fishing, and the outdoors, but most of all he loved spending time with his family.

He was preceded in death by his grandmother: Sylvia VanSlyke.
 
He is survived by his wife: Christa Leonard; 5 children: Zachary, Evan, Kailynn, Aubrey, and Isabelle; mother: Tammy Varnum; 2 siblings; several nieces, nephews, and other extended family; and a host of friends.

Deputy Leonard went missing while driving Tabitha Smith to jail Wednesday night.

The deputy’s patrol car was recovered Thursday from the Tennessee River.

Investigators found Smith’s body in the back seat.

Crews found the body of Deputy Leonard several hours later.

Law enforcement believes Deputy Leonard accidentally drove off a boat ramp on Blythe Ferry Lane.

The incident remains under investigation.