Unanswered questions remain for family of Tami Higgenbotham
And then there was one.
The death of her sister, Tami Higgenbotham, has left Staci Robinson, the last of the three girls in her family to not succumb to an untimely death.
Higgebotham, 41, had left her residence Feb. 8 in Vinton, La. to go to Orange. Her truck was found at Blue Bird’s Fish Camp on Simmons Drive, but she was no where to be found. During the trip to Orange she had texted Robinson saying she was going to sell her phone to Joshua Latham. Higgenbotham wanted to upgrade her phone so she had decided to sell hers. Around 1 p.m. Higgenbotham sent a text to her sister saying Latham wanted her to help him pick out wedding rings. By 1:30 the texts from Higgenbotham stopped.
Knowing it was odd for her sister since she was “always connected”, Robinson became worried and tried over and over to call her but each call went straight to voice mail.
Robinson went to the fish camp and showed a picture of her sister to people in the area. They told her they had seen Higgenbotham and she had gotten into a vehicle with Latham. However, when Robinson asked Latham if he had seen her sister, he denied ever meeting up with her. Latham’s girlfriend told Robinson Latham was at work on the day of the disappearance. However, Robinson would later learn he didn’t have a job.
Nevertheless, Robinson looked him in the eye as she handed him a flyer about her missing sister which left her with a feeling she was in the presence of evil and questioning his involvement.
Latham, who was wanted in connection with the disappearance of Tami Higginbotham, was arrested in Maryville, Tn., Thursday, Feb. 14. Orange police contacted local officials in Maryville, and told them Latham had relatives in the area.
Maryville police checked the relatives residence, and found Latham, along with his girlfriend, and their two-week -old infant. The woman and child were reported to be safe. He is being held on charges he violated his felony probation. It is not a bondable offense.
According to Cliff Hargrave, of the Orange Police Department, charges have not been filed against Latham in the Higgenbotham case.
Orange Police Detectives and a Texas Ranger went to Tennessee to interview Latham concerning the disappearance of Tami Higgenbotham. During the interview he told them where Higgenbotham’s body could be found.
Detectives went in search of the location north of Mauriceville on Feb. 15 where they found Higginbotham’s body in a heavily wooded, hunting lease in Newton County. Police said there were certain features on the body that matched descriptions of the missing woman. Further testing and autopsy results would reveal it was indeed her. However, further information on the cause of death is not available and remains under investigation.
Officers from Orange, Newton and Jasper Counties investigated the crime scene, and are working the case. But, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office has taken the lead in the case.
Robinson thought she was prepared for the news of her sister’s death. But, to finally have it confirmed was like being hit by a ton of bricks. Friends and family grieved for Tami and the loss of a woman who “would not hurt a flea.”
Higgenbotham may have been small in stature being 5’2” and weighing all of 120 pounds, but she was “feisty.”Robinson said she herself was the opinionated of the three sisters, but Higgenbotham would always back her up. Their younger sister died about 11 years ago following a difficult miscarriage.
Higgenbotham joined the Navy not long after graduating from a California high school. During her service, she worked as an electrician and served during Dessert Storm.
She met her husband while serving in the Navy and they would move to Louisiana in 1995 to be closer to his family. The rest of her family would eventually follow her here. The couple had two sons who are now ages 19 and 15 years old. She worked odd jobs over the years such as waitress, bar tender and cleaning houses.
But, it was her “ trusting “nature, being “everybody’s friend” and always “helping” everybody which may have contributed to her death.
For Robinson, these are the qualities which made her sister the good person she was during her all too brief life.
“She made a dent in everybody’s heart,” Robinson said.
Fortunately, there is one thing nobody cannot take from Robinson, which is her memories.
A favorite recent memory is one from New Year’s Eve where the pair shared laughs and “danced all night long.”
Higgenbotham’s body has not been released from the coroner’s office. Higgenbotham’s family is waiting so they can plan her funeral. They plan to host a benefit in the near future to help pay with funeral expenses.
Tami Higgenbotham and Staci Robinson during happier times. Higgenbotham’s body was discovered on Feb. 15 north of Mauriceville in a heavily wooded, hunting lease in Newton County.