Georgia police have arrested the mother and stepfather of a missing 16-year-old girl who is presumed dead, as reported by WRDW.
Latania Janell Carwell has been missing for three months and, throughout the investigation, her mother, Tanya Tripp, 35, and her stepfather, Leon Tripp, have been considered hindrances by police, as they refused to cooperate and give vital information, according to authorities.
Police suspect that Leon abducted the child in April and that Tanya is covering for him, concocting a story that the girl went missing during a trip to Atlanta. Though not yet charged with murder, investigators say that the girl’s stepfather admitted that she was dead, according to another report by WRDW.
“Originally she told a really good story and a lot of people came to her aid,” Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said of Tanya. “It’s taken us that long just to peel back those layers and break down all those lies.”
“So, once we start tearing away those falsehoods then we come up with the true narrative that she did not leave the home on her own like the mother originally said,” he said. “We issued the kidnapping warrants and she openly denied and said that wasn’t true, so she fought us every step of the way.”
Tanya Tripp originally said that she heard her daughter leaving on April 17 in a truck routed for Atlanta to help a friend with a broken automobile, noting that the last thing she heard her daughter say was “I love you mommy.”
Now, police believe this story to be an absolute fabrication. As such, Tanya has been arrested and charged with hindering the apprehension of a criminal. Leon has been arrested and charged with kidnapping, a charge that could be upped to murder if a body is found. Both adults were denied bail, as reported by Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The search for the the 16-year-old, or her remains, continues. Lt. Allan Rollins has said that they are “not gonna stop” until they find her. The District Attorney, Natalie Paine, said in court that the girl is either presumed dead or unable to communicate.
“Mr. Tripp and his wife who is the mother of Janell,” she said in a court statement provided by ABC 6. “They seem to be working in concert with each other.”
If anyone has any information regarding the whereabouts of the teenager they are encouraged to call Detective Ronald Sylvester at 706-821-1020.
[Image Credit: Facebook/Richmond County Sheriff’s Office]