2Carwell’s mother and stepfather are still in jail over her disappearance, and police believe they are both responsible for her murder.
Latania Carwell was last seen alive on April 17, 2017 with her stepdad Leon Tripp.
Her mother, Tanya Tripp, called police early that morning and told them that Latania (who also went by her middle name Janell) and her husband Leon Tripp were both missing and hadn’t answered repeated phone calls from her. Tripp told police that the two had left in her husband’s truck and drove from Augusta, Georgia to Clarks Hill, South Carolina to help a friend of his that was stranded. She said Janell tagged along because she was tech-savvy and went to help with the GPS on a smartphone, Crime Watch Daily reported.
Two weeks went by and police still weren’t able to track down Janell or Leon. They eventually found the white pickup truck Janell and Leon were in before their disappearance a mile away from the family’s home.
Police went through cell phone records and found out that Janell and Leon never made it to the Clark Hill area where Leon’s alleged friend had got stranded. The investigation took a turn when friends of Leon tipped police off that he had been spotted in Atlanta.
Police put out a search for Leon and they end up finding him along with Janell’s mother Tanya at a U-Haul facility in Atlanta.
“We were extremely shocked when we found her and him actually together,” Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree told Chris Hansen from Crime Watch Daily. “And that’s when we really got that sick feeling that, you know, this case is really not heading in a good direction.”
Janell’s mother Tanya tried to lie to police and tell them she found Leon on the side of the road while she was driving through Atlanta and the two happened to be together by coincidence. Authorities didn’t buy Tanya’s story and arrested them both. Leon was hit with kidnapping charges, while Tanya was charged with hindering the apprehension of a criminal.
In June, during a court appearance, Leon revealed to police that Janell was no longer alive.
“We now know have confirmed via statement, and this is from Mr. Tripp, that Janell is not alive,” said Augusta-Richmond County District Attorney Natalie Paine.
Police also found evidence that Tanya was in contact with Leon on numerous occasions throughout the search for her daughter.
“We have now confirmed that is now a lie,” said District Attorney Paine. “They were in regular contact via cell phone records for an extended amount of time prior to Mr. Tripp’s arrest.”
Paine also went on to say, “I would also state that Mrs. Tripp would have facilitated Leon Tripp being transferred back to Atlanta during this time frame that Janell has been missing.”
In August, police upgraded Leon and Tanya’s charges. He is now facing murder, while she is being charged with concealing her daughter’s death.