Latania Janell Carwell disappeared from her Georgia home the night before her 16th birthday
The remains of a 16-year-old Georgia girl who disappeared last year were found in a shallow grave behind a vacant home — and her mom and stepfather are charged with murdering her, PEOPLE confirms.
Latania Janell Carwell, who went by Janell, was last seen alive the night of April 17, the day before her birthday, Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said at a press conference Tuesday.
On May 23, authorities arrested stepfather Leon Tripp and mother Tanya Tripp: Leon was charged with kidnapping while Tanya was charged with hindering the apprehension of a criminal, according to WRDW.
At the time, despite not having found Janell’s body, authorities believed Leon Tripp allegedly murdered Janell sometime between the night of her disappearance and his arrest, according to Roundtree.
Last Thursday, Richmond County deputies received a call from someone who claimed to have discovered human remains in a shallow grave behind a vacant home. The remains were identified as Janell’s, ending the nearly year-long search for the teen, according to Roundtree.
On Tuesday, Leon Tripp was indicted on two counts of murder, one count of kidnapping with bodily injury, one count of cruelty to children in the first degree and one count of concealing a death. Tanya Tripp was indicted on murder in the second degree, concealing a death and harboring a fugitive, according to WJBF.
“This case is far over but at least now the community can find peace that Janell can finally be laid to rest and we can move forward with he prosecution of this case,” Roundtree said.
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Authorities are continuing to investigate Janell’s death, starting with how she died.
“This has been a long and exhausting investigation but it will not conclude until the successful prosecution of Leon and Tanya Tripp,” Roundtree said.
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Attorney information for Tanya and Leon Tripp was unavailable Wednesday, according to a Richmond County court official. They have not yet entered pleas to the current charges.
It was not immediately clear if they had entered pleas for the earlier charges.