AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - The stepfather and mother of Latania Carwell were both indicted on upgraded charges. A grand jury arrest warrant was issued for both Tanya and Leon Tripp. The District Attorney says bond has not been set yet.
Leon Tripp is facing several charges that includes two counts of murder, kidnapping with bodily injury, cruelty to children in the 1st degree, and concealing a death. Tanya Tripp is facing murder in the 2nd degree, concealing a death, and harboring a fugitive.
Investigators say Leon Tripp caused cruel and excessive pain to Latania Carwell by binding her limbs and causing her death. They say Tanya knew what happened but lied to investigators.
The sheriff's office has not released a motive.
Just after 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 13, the Richmond County Sheriff's Office held a press conference to go over the details of the investigation into the death of Latania Carwell.
Sheriff Richard Roundtree gave a recap of the investigation. We have put together our own summary, which you can read here. Sheriff Roundtree says the charges against Tanya and Leon Tripp will not be changed because Georgia law allows for murder suspects to be prosecuted without a body. According to Sheriff Roundtree, Tanya Tripp had a well-rehearsed story with several inconsistencies. When pressed, she shut down and would not answer investigators.
Answered during the press conference is one question that has been on everybody's mind: "Why wasn't the body discovered while investigators were searching the area last year?" Sheriff Roundtree says the searches conducted in the months after Carwell's disappearance were based on phone records and inconsistent information provided by Tonya Tripp. When conducting the searches, they asked residents to search their property. The home where the body was found was vacant at the time of those searches. As a person was preparing to move in recently, the property was being surveyed and the remains were found.
This is still an active investigation and the sheriff's office is asking anyone with more information to come forward. The GBI confirmed from Latania' dental records the remains found off of Golden Camp Road last Friday belonged to her.
The GBI says it will take several more weeks to find out how exactly she died and how long her body has been there. But one thing is certain, the Sheriff's Department says there's much more work to be finished to give closure to the family and community. "We just need to find the answers and fill in the gaps to the puzzle." says Sheriff Roundtree.