Ground, air search for body of LaTania Janell Carwell

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) - A large scale search effort brought together multiple resources throughout Richmond County to help find LaTania Carwell. The Richmond County Sheriff's Office, Richmond County Board of Education Police, Richmond County District Attorney, Augusta Fire Department and many others took part in the day long search.

Sheriff Richard Roundtree, who spoke with media in the mid Wednesday, said the search is about two things; finding LaTania's body and preparing the prosecution.

"Our main goal is to recover the Ms. Carwell's remains and the successful prosecution of this case," Sheriff Roundtree said.

All resources were on deck as the joint search team canvassed the Terrace Manor neighborhood and Regency Mall for the body of LaTania Carwell by foot and by air.

Sheriff Roundtree explained what came of the three mile area searched the yielded evidence connected to the case. "We did find evidence. We did find information that is connected to this particular case and we feel that in the future that's going to be significant."

The search started back at Carwell's home first thing Wednesday morning. A door-to-door search led to tips before the team transitioned to Phase 2 of the search at Regency Mall. The sheriff said a forensic search done in the home and both of theTripp vehicles turned up nothing. But there is enough forensic evidence to put LaTania at the Tate Road home before midnight April 17, the day she was reported missing.

Despite the homicide search, many people are hoping LaTania is still alive until an actual body is recovered.

"We would prefer to see a live body, absolutely would," Sheriff Roundtree said. "All we can do is go with the evidence we have at hand and work diligently from there. We want peace, but based on the information we have obtained, we feel that we're working a homicide investigation."

We now know that when Tanya Tripp took off to Atlanta to join her husband, a third person drove one or both of them that person is cooperating with investigators.

"We have identified the individual who has provided transportation to one or two of the trips. We don't feel they're connected to the case," he said.

Since the case started as a missing person's report from a mother now behind bars, Roundtree said the prior story she told deputies isn't credible and every piece must be re-evaluated in a case that is pulling on the heart strings of many.

"Everybody has turned 16 once," the Sheriff explained. "It's something you looked forward to doing. It was a milestone in your life. It's something that everyone growing up looks forward to, a Sweet 16. It has been part of our culture for a very long time. And she will never have anything to experience beyond that."

Sheriff Roundtree added both Leon and Tanya Tripp have regained counsel and neither have confessed. We are working to see whether a search will take place Thursday.

Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins

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