LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WKRN) — “You hate to see the good guys go, and he was a good guy, all the way around.”

Lt. Robert Hayes was a man Mike Walker speaks highly of.

“He was always smiling and laughing, and a very smart man,” he said. “A very good man.”

Walker served as police chief for the La Vergne Police Department from 2011 to 2020. During that time, Hayes became an officer he grew close to.

“It’s family, and when you work with family every day you get close to folks,” he said.

For 17 years, Hayes served with the department.

He did everything from working as a public information officer to patrol. When he became a detective, that’s when he focused on a Jane Doe case that began back in 2017.

For over a decade, Hayes worked to try and find answers to this case where the victim and person responsible for her death still remain unknown.

“He wanted so hard to be able to get something that we could put our hands on so that he could say solved, and he never had that opportunity,” said Walker.

It was in March 2023 when Walker learned Hayes was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

“It hit me like a ton of bricks because he was such a good guy,” he said.

On Monday, April 17, Hayes passed away.

And as his department works to honor his life, Walker admits he’s still sad knowing he not only lost a good officer but also a great friend.

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“You know that’s when I look up and say, ‘Why? Why Bob?'” he said. “We don’t know why, but I’ll see him again someday.”

Funeral arraignments have not been set at this time.