Stepfather of missing teen charged with murder

The stepfather of missing 16-year-old Latania Janell Carwell is now charged with murder.

 

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office added the charge to Leon Tripp, 38, on Wednesday afternoon after consulting with the district attorney’s office, it said in a news release. . The statement does not address the question about whether Latania’s remains have been found and a sheriff’s office spokeswoman refused to provide further information.

A charge of concealing the death of another was added against his wife and Latania’s mother, Tanya Tripp, who had been charged with hindering the apprehension of a criminal. Leon Tripp has been held on a kidnapping charge since he and his wife were arrested in DeKalb County on May 24.

Tanya Tripp had reported her husband and daughter missing on April 17, hours after he allegedly woke her and said he was taking Latania with him to go help a friend with car trouble.

Latania hasn’t been seen since she disappeared April 17, which was her 16th birthday. There has been no activity on her cell phone either, according to an earlier report in The Augusta Chronicle.

While Tanya Tripp insisted to law enforcement she had had no contact with either her husband or daughter, phone records revealed numerous calls between her and her husband between April 17 and May 24.

On June 11, Sheriff Richard Roundtree called a news conference to announce Latania was believed to be dead based on a statement Leon Tripp made.

Searches in the area of the family’s former home on Tate Road and elsewhere have been unsuccessful in finding her body.

The Tripps married while he was still in prison. Leon Tripp moved in with his wife and stepdaughters in 2015 when he was released after serving about six years on convictions for aggravated assault, aggravated stalking and theft.

Reach Sandy Hodson at sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com or (706) 823-3226

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