The Newton County Grand Jury has returned an indictment against Joshua Latham, 26, of Mauriceville, on charges of murder.

Latham  is accused of murdering 41-year-old Tami Higginbotham, of Vinton, La. He faces up to 99 years in prison for the first degree felony. Before he can be extradited to Newton County to face the charges, he must first complete the jail term in the Orange County Jail, according to Robert Smith, of the Texas Rangers.

Latham is currently in the Orange County Jail after he violated his probation and was sentenced in March to 180 days in jail and his felony probation term was extended four years.

Higgenbotham, left her residence on Feb. 8 from Vinton, La. to go to Orange. Her truck was found later 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 her sister, Staci Robinson, saying she was going to sell her phone to Joshua Latham. Higgenbotham wanted to upgrade so she had decided to sell her phone. 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 repeatedly to call her but each call went straight to voice mail.

Robinson later 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.

Latham, who was a ‘person of interest” in connection with the disappearance of Higginbotham, fled the area.

He was arrested a few days later,  Feb. 14, in Maryville, Tenn. Orange police contacted local officials in Maryville, and told them Latham had relatives in the area.

Maryville police checked the relative’s residence, and found Latham, along with his girlfriend, and their two-week-old infant. The woman and child were reported to be safe. He was held on charges he violated his felony probation.

Detectives and the Texas Ranger went to Tennessee to interview Latham concerning the disappearance of Higgenbotham. During the interview he reportedly told them where Higgenbotham’s body could be found.

Investigators 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. Additional testing  indicated  Higgenbotham was strangled to death.

‘It’s great to finally see the case moving forward,” Robinson said. “It won’t bring my sister back, but at least we will finally see justice for her. I have complete faith that Ranger Smith will see that happens.”