ATLANTA – Nearly one year after a teen was reported missing and her mother and stepfather were arrested in metro Atlanta, the girl’s remains were discovered in a shallow grave.
Bones found in the backyard of a vacant residence in Augusta last week were identified as those of Latania Janell Carwell, who was reported missing April 17, the night before her 16th birthday, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office said.
The girl’s stepfather, Leon Tripp, was arrested in DeKalb County in May in connection with her disappearance.
Her mother, Tanya Tripp, was arrested in Atlanta the same month.
The sheriff’s office received a phone call Thursday from someone who had discovered some human remains on Golden Camp Road, Sheriff Richard Roundtree said Tuesday at a news conference.
A forensic search was conducted that included the coroner and a GBI anthropologist, Roundtree said. Monday, officials learned dental records sent to the GBI crime lab confirmed the remains were those of Carwell.
“We did find information (during the process) that supports the fact that the subjects we have in custody are responsible,” Roundtree said.
Long before the girl’s body was found, Leon Tripp was charged with kidnapping and murder, and Tanya Tripp was charged with concealing a death. They both are in the Richmond County jail.
Richmond County District Attorney Natalie Paine didn’t say if more charges would be filed against Tanya Tripp in connection with the discovery, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
The investigation is ongoing, the sheriff said. The next steps are determining the actual cause of death of the girl and possible indictments of the suspects by a grand jury.
“Community support has been overwhelming,” Roundtree said. “At least now, the community can find peace.”
Carwell was last seen when she and her stepfather left their residence, officials said.
In June, Roundtree said the girl was thought to be dead based on a statement made by the stepfather.
This article was written by Steve Burns, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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