Timeline: Search for Richmond County teen allegedly kidnapped by stepdad

Leon Tripp (left) and Tanya Tripp (right) are now in jail. The search is on for their 16-year-old daughter, Latania Janell Carwell (center).
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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

RICHMOND COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) –- Richmond County Sheriff's Office investigators are looking for a girl they believe was kidnapped by her stepfather.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Social media friends and followers of this story begin to paint rocks to ensure that people never forget Janell Carwell name.

Monday, April 17, 2017
Latania Janell Carwell, 16, and Leon Lamar Tripp, 38, were last seen around 1:30 a.m. at the 3100 block of Tate Road.

Friday, April 21, 2017
Richmond County Sheriff's Office sends out release of their disappearance.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Investigators say they recovered the 1990 GMC Sierra pickup truck they were believed to be in.

Friday, April 28, 2017
The family of Latania Janell Carwell offers a $500 reward for anyone with any information.
Investigators say it's possible they are still in Augusta, because deputies found the car he was driving not even a mile away from their home.
Investigators say it is also possible they are in Atlanta, as they have ties to the area

Monday, May 1, 2017
Kidnapping warrants were issued for Leon Lamar Tripp.

Leon Tripp was seen on April 21, 2017 at the Stop N' Shop Grocery located at 785 Lee Street SW Atlanta, Ga., but Latania Carwell was not with him. It is unknown what clothing Carwell and Tripp had on at the time that they left the residence.

Carwell is described as 5 feet 4 inches tall and 160 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. Tripp is described as 5 feet 11 inches tall and 202 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

If you have any information on Carwell and/or Tripp please contact Investigator Daniel Madden or Sgt. Tim Owen at the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office at (706) 821-1020 or (706) 821-1080.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017
With every passing day Tanya Tripp's worry grows.
"It's getting harder and harder for me," said Tanya Tripp. "It's not the same, because I am so used to hearing my daughter," said Tripp.

Tripp's 16-year-old daughter Latonia Janell Carwell and her stepfather Leon Lamar Tripp have been missing for more than two weeks. "It's been 15 days now. Too long. Too long," said Tripp.

For most of that time investigators said both were missing. "It's such an emotional roller coaster," said Tripp.

Deputies say after a bystander spotted the stepfather, Leon Tripp, in Atlanta by the Stop'N'Shop on Lee Street, alone, investigators issued the arrest warrant for Tripp on kidnapping charges.

Investigators say the bystander positively identified the cross tattoo in the middle of Tripp's forehead. "When I heard the charges I'm like 'wow really?' Because this is her dad. I said this is her dad. Both of my kids. This is the only dad they've ever known," said Tripp.

Mrs. Tripp says she still does not believe her husband, her daughter's stepfather, would kidnap Janell. "This is the man they love. This man is not going to hurt them," said Tripp.

Still, Mrs.Tripp knows she doesn't have all the answers.

The white GMC truck she heard crank up the night Janell and her husband disappeared is back in her carport serving as a blaring reminder of the questions she has for her daughter if she gets back home.

"I'm going to give her the biggest hug ever. Ask her is she ok? Was she harmed? Was she touched? What happened?" "When my daughter is found she will tell the truth. I have no doubt in my mind that my husband is innocent in all this," said Tripp.

Sunday, May 7, 2017
Monday marks three weeks since Tanya Tripp's 16-year-old daughter and her husband went missing. Tripp said she hasn't stopped praying.

"It gives me hope. It gives me strength, and I know that God is able," Tripp said. "I know he is going to bring my baby home. I just have faith in that."

The Great Young Zion Baptist Church came together on Sunday to hold a prayer vigil for Tripp and to pray for her daughter Latonia Janell Carwell, and her husband Leon Tripp to come home.

Tripp said she wishes her daughter could see how many people came together at the church for her. "She would love it. She would love it, and when she gets home and sees this she is going to awe," Tripp said.

Investigators issued an arrest warrant earlier this week for her husband on kidnapping charges after deputies said someone spotted him in the Atlanta area without Janell.

Tripp said she is certain this is not a kidnapping. "She just went with her dad to go help him find this dude. Even though the investigators say there is no truth in that, but I believe it is and when they come home they are going to tell that too," Tripp said.

Tripp said she hopes that day comes sooner than later. "I know she's scared. She's scared because I know I would be if I was in that situation, not having my mom around, I would be scared out of my mind," Tripp said.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
The case of a missing 16-year-old from Augusta has taken another turn. Latania Janell Carwell's mother and stepfather are now behind bars while she is nowhere to be found.

Deputies arrested Leon Tripp in Dekalb County earlier Tuesday afternoon on kidnapping charges while Tanya Tripp, Carwell's mother, was arrested just a few hours later and charged with hindering the apprehension of a criminal. The Richmond County Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's Office confirmed the teenager was not found with either parent.

Investigators say Tanya Tripp was not only in contact with her husband, but had recently moved out of her Augusta home to be with him in Atlanta. Tripp's home was found empty while chairs, televisions and mattresses littered her front yard after neighbors say she was evicted Monday morning.

After nearly a month of searching, half of the puzzle is now solved as Leon Tripp sits behind bars in police custody. He's facing kidnapping charges on an arrest warrant from Richmond County while also facing probation violations for an aggravated stalking charge out of Fulton County.

Latania's mother Tanya Tripp sat down with News 12 NBC 26 when the investigation back on April 28 to talk about the day her husband and daughter went missing.

"I said, 'I love y'all. Let me know when you're on your way back.' And I said so I don't worry because you know how I get," Tripp said. "I heard her say, 'I love you mommy.' It's just, it's killing me because I want them home so bad."

But now she's also now behind bars.

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office confirmed Tripp was arrested Tuesday night on charges for hindering the apprehension of a criminal. Investigators say she was not only in contact with Leon but had moved to Atlanta to be with him.

The entire time, Tanya defended her husband. She sat down with News 12 NBC 26 again on May 7 at a prayer vigil for Latania and said her husband was not the kind of man to kidnap their daughter.

"She just went with her dad to help him find this dude," Tripp said. "Even though the investigators are saying there's not no truth to any of that stuff, I believe it is. And when they come home, they're going to tell that, too."

But now there's no house for both Tripps and their daughter to come home to after neighbors say she was evicted from her Augusta home. While the search continues, Carwell's uncle Charles Carwell says the arrest brings a sigh of relief.

"You know, you feel the justice half of it has finally caught up," Carwell says. "So it's like yeah, we got him and the very next thing that runs through your mind is what about Latania?"

It's that realization that's keeping Charles and other family members to stay strong for their little girl.

"You keep the faith, you keep praying," Carwell says. "This is a step. You keep praying on it and hopefully, we can build on it and bring her home."

Investigators say they're still continuing to search for the teenager, but there is no word on where she might be. Anyone with any information can call the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The home of Tanya Tripp on the 3100 block of Tate Road is set to be searched by CID investigators on Wednesday.


Officials at the Atlanta City Detention Center have said Tanya Tripp is in custody at their facility.

Deputies arrested Leon Tripp in Dekalb County earlier Tuesday afternoon on kidnapping charges while Tanya Tripp, Carwell's mother, was arrested just a few hours later and charged with hindering the apprehension of a criminal. The Richmond County Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's Office confirmed the teenager was not found with either parent.

Neighbors say Tanya Tripp was evicted from her home Augusta home. Investigators were at her home Wednesday afternoon with the Marshal's Office.

Investigators say they're still continuing to search for the teenager, but there is no word on where she might be. Anyone with any information can call the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

A parent at Josey High School is matching the $500 reward Latania Janell Carwell's uncle put up for information in the case of his missing niece. The reward is now up to $1,000.

Friday, May 26, 2017
One of two parents of a missing 16-year-old is now in the Richmond County jail.

Tanya Faye Tripp, 35, is facing charges of hindering the apprehension or punishment of a criminal.

Leon Lamar Tripp was last being held in DeKalb County Jail. We've confirmed that he has been moved to Fulton County. It is currently unclear when he will be returned to Richmond County.

Tanya Tripp and stepfather Leon Lamar Tripp are both facing charges after the disappearance of Latania Janell Carwell.

Investigators say they're still continuing to search for the teenager, but there is no word on where she might be. Anyone with any information can call the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Thursday, June 1, 2017
The stepfather of a missing Augusta teenager had a probation hearing scheduled in an Atlanta courtroom Thursday morning, but his lawyer waived his right to appear.

Instead, it was just his lawyer in the courtroom, and it was a quick hearing. The hearing lasted less than five minutes. News 12 NBC 26 has learned that his attorney does not want him on camera right now.

The next step will have Leon Tripp extradited back to Richmond County to face the kidnapping charges, jail officials say Richmond County has 24 hours to pick him up.

Superior Court Judge Karen Woodson said Tripp may eventually have to come back to Fulton County for his probation hearing. He was on parole in Fulton County for a 2009 charge of aggravated stalking.

Tripp's stepdaughter, Latania Janell Carwell has been missing for more than a month. His wife and the girl's mother, Tanya Tripp, is in custody in Richmond County accused of interfering with the apprehension of a criminal.