Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree has called a news conference for 10 a.m. Monday to talk about missing 16-year-old Latania Janell Carwell, whose stepfather and mother are behind bars on charges related to her disappearance.
Leon Lamar Tripp, 38, of Augusta, was arrested May 22 in DeKalb County on felony charges of aggravated stalking and kidnapping. Tanya Faye Tripp – Latania Carwell’s mother – was charged with hindering the apprehension of a criminal after deputies found she had moved from Augusta to the Atlanta area to be with Tripp.
Leon Tripp and Carwell were last seen April 17 when they left their residence in the 3100 block of Tate Road. Tripp initially told his wife he was with Latania and they were helping a friend with a stranded vehicle. Tripp was later seen at an Atlanta grocery store but Carwell was not with him.
District Attorney Natalie Paine argued against bond for Tripp, saying that Latania is feared to be dead or being held incommunicado. According to phone records, Carwell hasn’t been in contact with anyone since April 17.
There is no evidence to suggest that Latania went voluntarily with Tripp. Her mother told sheriff’s investigators that it was after midnight when Tripp said he was taking her along to help a friend whose vehicle had broken down.
Tripp is a convicted felon who married 35-year-old Tanya Tripp while he was still in prison.
Tripp was in prison from June 2009 through April 2015 following his convictions for aggravated assault, aggravated stalking and theft in DeKalb County. He is still on probation.
A prayer vigil for Latania was held Friday night at T.W. Josey High School, where the teen has been a student.
“You know that if it was your child, you’d want everybody to do whatever they could to help find, to locate and to bring your child home,” Pastor Christopher J. Waters said. “She is our child.”