Missing Lebanon Police Officer found dead in DeKalb County


The Tennessee Highway Patrol said an off-duty police officer was found dead in DeKalb County on Thursday.

Officer Joseph Bowen, 28, was reported missing after driving home to DeKalb County from his shift around 6 a.m. Family members became concerned and contacted law enforcement.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department said Verizon pinged Bowen’s cell phone in DeKalb County near Nashville Highway and Goose Creek Road. The phone was last used at 7:29 a.m.

The THP said officers found his vehicle after several routes were searched leading to his home.

The Lebanon Police Department said his body was recovered from the Dry Creek several hundred yards from where his truck was found. His truck left Hwy 70, went down a rock embankment, hit a large tree and plunged into the creek at Dowelltown.

The DCSD said Bowen's truck was carried a few feet downstream before it rested partially submerged on the passenger side.

Bowen leaves behind a wife, two a young daughter, a young son and a "family that loved him, both by blood and in blue," according to the LPD. Bowen worked for the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department prior to working for the LPD.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said Bowen was a good officer and will be missed.

“Joe Bowen and his family have been true servants to this county. Joe’s wife, Kim, is a 911 dispatcher for DeKalb County. His father, Dwayne, was a former deputy in DeKalb County before leaving to go to the Lebanon Police Department. Joe has served as a volunteer fireman for DeKalb County. He started his career in law enforcement working for my department as a correctional officer. I then promoted him to a deputy position where he worked in that capacity until he left my department to go to the Lebanon Police Department. Joe was much more than an employee to me. He was a true friend. His personal life and work ethics were a true example of what every officer should be like. My department, along with other emergency agencies in the county, morn his loss and will provide his family for whatever support they need."

Lebanon Police Chief Mike Justice said Bowen was a great public servant, an amazing family man and father.

"This tragedy can only be described as impactful, as it will touch the lives of many, just as Joe had touched so many lives with his kindness," Justice said in a news release.

Agencies involved in the search for Bowen included:

  • members of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department
  • DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department& Rescue
  • DeKalb Emergency Management Agency
  • DeKalb EMS, Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad
  • TWRA, Alexandria Police and Fire Departments
  • Smithville Police officers
  • Tennessee Division of Forestry
  • Putnam County Swift Water Rescue
  • Lebanon Police and Wilson County Sheriff’s Department
  • several concerned citizens who volunteered to help
  • The THP assisted with a ground and aerial search and the THP CERT Team investigated the crash along with Trooper Bobby Johnson.

Some middle Tennessee law enforcement agencies used social media to share their condolences with the Lebanon Police Department and Officer Bowen's family.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated with the latest information.

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