FLOWER MOUND — A veteran Flower Mound police officer has apologized after failing to show up for work and triggering a frantic search that led investigators to a Florida hotel.
Authorities said 43-year-old Sgt. Jeremy Ray Varnell was located Wednesday morning in Lantana, Florida two days after he vanished in San Antonio.
Varnell's lawyer, Peter A. Schulte, issued this statement on behalf of his client late Wednesday afternoon.
"Sergeant Varnell was taking personal time to reflect on some private personal issues and appreciates the support he has received from his friends, family, and colleagues over the last few days. He in no way intended for law enforcement to search for his whereabouts. He very much appreciates the concern and outpouring of support he has received from the community and looks forward to returning home to Texas in the next couple of days. He sincerely apologizes for any inconvenience caused by this misunderstanding."
In a news conference Wednesday morning, Chief Andy Kancel said the Flower Mound Police Department was alerted Varnell was found safe at about 6:30 a.m. According to Kancel, a patrol officer was running plates in a parking lot of a Lantana, Fla. hotel when he found a match to Varnell, who was reported missing out of the San Antonio area.
Kancel said Wednesday marked the second day Varnell didn't report to duty at the police department.
"Right now, he's safe," he said. "But, we want to talk to him."
The chief said the discovery of Varnell shifted the incident from a missing person case to a "personnel matter that will be handled internally." At 10 a.m. Wednesday, Kancel said he had not yet talked with the sergeant.
Kancel, who has worked with the Flower Mound Police Department for about two weeks, said Varnell has served with the department for 19 years, acting as a sergeant for the last five.
"I have had the opportunity to speak to him," the newly-assigned chief said when asked about Kancel's past with the department. "He's a very kind man and we've had some good conversations. I would say it's certainly out of character and I look forward to talking with him one on one to find out what's going on."
Before he was located, the sergeant was last seen Sunday, when he went to San Antonio to run the Rock 'N' Roll Marathon.
His family lost contact with him after the event, and a Flower Mound police spokesman said there was no sign of Varnell or his vehicle after he vanished from his room at the El Tropicano hotel in the 100 block of Lexington Avenue, across from the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium.
According to race results, Varnell finished the marathon about 1:25 p.m., after running for five hours, 55 minutes and 44 seconds. He placed 2,075 out of 2,622 entrants and then went to dinner with friends who also ran.
Monday morning, he did not show up for a planned breakfast, according to a police report. Flower Mound police dispatched two investigators to assist San Antonio police in the search.