UPDATE: TBI says Bledsoe Co deputy Seals died from natural causes
By WRCB Staff
Bledsoe County Sheriff's Office Detective Ricky Seals. WRCBtv file photo
PIKEVILLE, TN (WRCB) -
UPDATE: An official with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation tells Channel 3 that Bledsoe County deputy Ricky Seals died of natural causes.
UPDATE: The TBI's preliminary autopsy report says that Detective Ricky Seals did not die from any physical injury.
The Medical Examiner will not be able to determine a more specific cause of death until final toxicology results are available. No specific cause of death has been released.
TBI Agents continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.
"It's important to know we're classifying this and qualifying this as a death investigation at this point," said TBI PIO Josh DeVine, "Until evidence surfaces that it might be something else."
Family members and close friends are holding onto hope that the complete autopsy will give more answers into how Det. Seals died. Seals has been in law enforcement for more than 30 years, working with the Bledsoe County Sheriff's Office and Pikeville Police Department. People in the County Courthouse say no one else did the kind of investigative work as Ricky Seals. For 18 years he was the lead investigator in child abuse and juvenile cases, and some wonder how the District Attorney will prosecute those cases now that he's gone.
Seals earned the respect of area sheriff's past and present. The Sequatchie County Sheriff was one of the first on scene Tuesday morning, to help out in any way needed and to pay respects to a good friend.
"Those folks are our family because we're together so many hours a day, so many days a week, sometimes for days on end," Sheriff Ronnie Hitchcock said. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ PREVIOUS STORY: The investigation is centered on a gravel road off Old Tennessee Highway 28 and U.S. 127 north of Pikeville, and is being handed off to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, since the death is considered to be “too personal” for Bledsoe County Sheriff's Office to investigate.
Seals was said to be off-duty, and driving his personal vehicle, a black soft-top Jeep, which he was found near.
The TBi is now calling it a "death investigation" until an autopsy determines the cause of death.
"This is a huge loss for this department," said Josh DeVine, TBI spokesperson. "This is a small, tight-knit community and a lot of people knew this individual. He had a long, law enforcement career in this area."
The crime scene is located on property known as the Greeson Farm. The 300 acres have been on the real estate market for about six months.
The owners, who live out of state, were not home at the time of the incident.
Seals' body was found by a passerby about 3:15am as a suspicious person call to 911 was being investigated.
The TBI won't speculate what Seals was doing on the property, how he died, or if there are any suspects in his death.
Channel 3 asked DeVine if residents need to be alert in the area. He said, "Residents always need to be on alert and that's why we're asking for the public's assistance in this matter. If anyone saw anything or heard anything that might have seemed out of the norm, we would certainly like them to call 1-800-TBI-FIND. It might seem insignificant to you but it might be the information that helps our investigators piece this together."
His body has been removed from the crime scene and has been taken for an autopsy.