AUGUSTA, Ga. — A day after remains found in a shallow grave were identified as those of a missing teenage girl, the sheriff is saying the case is not over.
On Monday, Augusta authorities identified remains that were found on March 8 as Latania Janell Carwell. She was found in the backyard of a property in the 2200 block of Golden Camp Road.
On March 12, authorities obtained her dental records and used them to identify her.
Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree held a news conference Tuesday morning and said months earlier, crews searched near the location where she was found. He said their crews searched a wooded area across the street from the private backyard.
"We encouraged the public to check their yards...we only check common areas" he said.
But said at the time, the property was vacant and owned by the bank. Roundtree said the new owner was taking a survey of the land when he found the remains.
"This has been a long and exhausting investigation, but it will not conclude until the successful prosecution of Leon and Tanya Tripp," he said.
In June 2017, her stepdad Leone Tripp was arrested in DeKalb County in related to her kidnapping case. He was the last person she was seen alive with after police say he kidnapped her from her Richmond County home.
In court in June, prosecutors said that Leon Tripp admitted to authorities that Carwell is dead.
Carwell's mother, Tanya Tripp was also arrested for allegedly hindering the apprehension of a criminal, Leon. During the investigation, detectives said that she moved from Augusta to the Atlanta area to be with Leon and tried to help him evade police.
Roundtree said the community response to this story helped get them to where they are today.
"The community support has been overwhelming as they have embraced this case as if Janell was their own child. Without the help of the community, I don't feel that this case would be at this stage."
He said the case had been a homicide investigation since early-on but said having her body erases any doubt during the prosecution of the case.
"The case is far from over but at least now the community can find peace that Janelle can finally be laid to rest and we can move forward with the prosecution of this case," he said.
Anyone with information is asked to call 706-821-1020 during business hours or contact dispatch after hours at 706-821-1080 and ask for the on-call investigator. All calls can be handled confidentially.