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Friday, Feb. 27, 2015

Missing man's body found

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The body of Matthew Tibbs, missing from his Highway 82 South home since Dec. 21, was found in nearby Duck River late Wednesday morning, investigators said.

Tibbs was found by members of the Bedford County Rescue Unit and volunteers, using a cadaver dog, from Savannah Springs K-9 Center of Lenoir City, Detective Chad Webster of the Bedford County Sheriff's Department said.

Dog finds body

"The canine gave a positive alert about three-fourths of a mile west of the (Highway 82 South) bridge where we suspected Tibbs went in," Webster said. "The body was discovered along the bank in approximately 3 feet of water."

Officials said the searchers' boat's engine stalled near the point where Tibbs was found, and the dog "alerted" almost immediately. The engine restarted moments later, they said.

The river was too high for Tibbs to be found until Wednesday, Sheriff Randall Boyce said, noting that searchers were fortunate to find the body before water from heavy rain of the past 24 hours caused the water to rise again.

A ground search was conducted in the area where Tibbs was found the same weekend he was reported missing, Boyce said.

Much help

"The Rescue Unit spent two to three days a week doing ground searches and another water search last weekend," Boyce said. "Everybody went out of their way to help us. We really appreciate it."

Tibbs, 21, was last seen at his home, less than a half-mile from the river. He left the home without his keys, phone, glasses or wallet, the BCSD said at the time.

"We found footprints from bare feet leading toward the river," Boyce said Wednesday.

"The investigation is ongoing pending autopsy results, but there's nothing pointing to anything other than a drowning," Webster said.

Others still missing

Authorities continue to search for other missing persons.

* Chloie Leverette, 9, and Gage Daniel, 7, haven't been seen since their grandparents' home on Kingdom Road in Rover burned in September 2012. The grandparents' remains have been identified, but no remnants of the children were found.

Many searches of the rubble were held last fall, and ground searches for the children were conducted as well.

* Shelly Jones Mook was last seen in late February 2011 at her home north of Shelbyville. Her car was found burned near Murfreesboro later that night.

"There are still some leads being followed, but none the TBI wants to talk about," Boyce said of the Mook case.

* Bobby Smelcer was last seen in late November 2010 at his East Lane Street home. A skull positively identified as his was found in April 2012 on the banks of Duck River west of Shelbyville.

No other evidence has been discovered in several searches of that area of river and other locations in Bedford County.

The Smelcer family has coordinated several searches as well as city police, who are lead investigators in the case.

* Antonio Taylor of Shelbyville has been missing since 1999.

Searchers look for clues in the Taylor case while looking for the other missing persons.