Search suspended, reward offered for info on missing Cookeville dentist


There’ve been three days of an intense search and there still hasn’t been a sign of Dr. James Smith, a well-known dentist in Cookeville.  

“We have boots on the ground, and we are utilizing every resource available to us in an attempt to locate him,” said Overton County Sheriff John Garrett. 

Officials announced late Saturday that they were suspending search efforts, at least momentarily, ahead of Easter Sunday. 

“The community has lots of questions,” said District Attorney Bryant Dunaway. “We are all concerned about Dr. Smith’s well-being.”  

Smith’s wife reported him missing Wednesday night. The 83-year-old was last seen earlier that afternoon. 

“Wednesdays are his days off, so it is quite normal for him to travel and visit Overton County, but he did not return,” said Putnam County Sheriff Eddie Farris.  

A silver alert was issued Thursday.  

That same day investigators found Smith’s pick up truck between Puncheon Camp Road and Copeland Cove Lane, a six-mile wooded stretch. 

“If anyone has any trail cameras or hunting cameras, notify authorities,” Farris said.  

Investigators hope combing the area will help find him. 

“We were lucky enough to find his truck and hopefully that leads to some answers.”  

Dr. James L. Smith, 83, is a white man with brown eyes and silver hair. He is approximately 6-feet tall and 160 pounds. He was last seen at his residence in Cookeville on Wednesday, April 17. According to the Putnam Co. Sheriff’s Office, there is a $20,000 reward offered for information leading to his whereabouts. 

Anyone that may have seen Smith or has information regarding his whereabouts is asked to call the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at 931-528-8484 ex. 1. 

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