Mother charged with murder in Georgia teen’s death

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

The mother of a girl whose remains were found in a shallow grave in Augusta has been charged with murder, according to court records.

In an indictment Tuesday, Tanya Faye Tripp was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Latania Janell Carwell, who was last seen one day before her 16th birthday.

The indictment also offered new details on how she died.

Carwell went missing April 17 after involuntarily leaving home with her stepfather, prosecutors said. The case went cold until this month, when authorities got the tip about bones in the backyard of a vacant residence.

While the cause of death remains unofficial, the indictment alleges the stepfather, Leon Tripp, caused “cruel and excessive physical and mental pain by binding the limbs and causing the death of Carwell by unknown means.”

Leon Tripp was indicted Tuesday on charges of murder, cruelty to children, kidnapping and concealing a death, according to Richmond County Superior Court records. In addition to second-degree murder, Tanya Tripp was indicted on charges of hindering the apprehension of a fugitive and concealing a death.

Long before the GBI confirmed dental records were those of Carwell this week, authorities suspected Leon and Tonya Tripp were involved in the girl’s death. From the beginning of the case, the sheriff’s office said they noticed “holes” in Tanya Tripp’s statements.

Leon and Tanya Tripp were taken into custody in metro Atlanta in May. The next month, Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said Carwell was thought to be dead based on a statement made by Leon Tripp.

That prompted authorities to charge him with kidnapping and murder and Tanya Tripp with concealing a death.

Both are in the Richmond County jail.

“No one can understand how a parent can harm their own child,” Roundtree said at a news conference Tuesday. “I don’t think we can understand that today.”