The family of Tami Higgenbotham, who was murdered in Feb. 2013, stand outside the Newton County court house awaiting the trial of Joshua Latham of Mauriceville. The charges of murder have been dropped. Latham now faces charges of tampering with evidence and failure to appear. They made signs to express their distress over the happenings during the past two years.

By Debby Schamber – For the Record
The family of Tami Higgenbotham, who was murdered in Feb. 2013, is still seeking answers in the case against Joshua Latham of Mauriceville.
The murder charges against Latham have been dropped by the Newton County District Attorney’s Office. Latham now faces charges of tampering with evidence after he flung Higgenbotham’s purse out of his vehicle. He also faces a failure to appear charge after he fled the state and failed to show up for the murder trial in Feb. 2015. Higgenbotham’s family arrived at the nearly empty court room only to discover they would not see justice for her on that day.
 Latham has chosen to allow a jury to decide his fate on the charges. However, due to an oversight by the jailor who brought him into the court room in handcuffs, the trial has once again been postponed until Dec. 7th. The judicial district judge presiding over the case explained it was against his constitutional rights to be seen by the jury pool in handcuffs.
If convicted of the charges Latham could receive up to 10 years in prison and is eligible for probation. However, Orange County does have a hold on him on charges he violated the terms of his probation on a prior burglary of a habitation. He could receive up to 20 years in prison for the charge.
William Maudlin, Higgenbotham’s father, said the result was “typical” for Newton County. However, he does feel Dec. 7th may actually be a great day. It is Pearl Harbor Day and since it is a day of remembrance and she served in the military “this is the perfect day.”
“We just want to have justice for Tami,” Maudlin said.
But, the family will have to wait longer. The Newton County District Attorney informed the family Latham will not face murder charges now but may in the future if additional evidence is presented.
The day Tami died began when the 41-year-old left her residence in Vinton, La. to go to Orange. During the trip to Orange she had texted her sister, Staci Robinson, saying she was going to sell her phone to 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 wondered what had happened to her and the pickup truck was later found at Blue Bird’s Fish Camp on Simmons Drive, but Tami was no where to be found.
Robinson 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, Dusti, told Robinson Latham was at work on the day of the disappearance. However, Robinson would later learn he didn’t have a job. Robinson looked Latham in the eye as she handed him a flyer about her missing sister.
Latham, who was wanted in connection with the disappearance of Higginbotham, was arrested in Maryville, Tn. 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. He was held on charges he violated his probation.
 During the interview with police, Latham told them where Higgenbotham’s body could be found. But, his stories on how the body got there changed many times and he claimed other people, such as a motorcycle gang and the Aryans were responsible.
Detectives went in search of the location north of Mauriceville 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. In the autopsy report written by Dr. Tommy Brown, it stated the cause of death was asphyxia due to external compression of the neck and the manner of death was homicide. In addition, according to the report, there were two post mortem abrasions on her right forehead area.
The family recently found the spot where Higgenbotham’s body was once laying. They carved a cross in the tree at the spot and held each other tight while remembering her. The emotionally charged moment was filled with sadness but also one with relief since the family said they had been wanting to find the location for a long time.
A recent post on Facebook by Franki Bass, Dusti’s mother, wrote “I have prayed and prayed about this situation and I am sick and tired of people claiming to know all there is to know. All the lies are fixing to be exposed. I promise that on my grave. I am done keeping my mouth shut. The truth about the drugs, money and the people involved is going to come out. I will not let my kids or my grandkids take the fall for something those (expletive) from Vinton done. I am sorry that someone paid the price with their life behind a drug deal gone bad but it is time the truth come out and the guilty ones pay the price.”
The family of Higgenbotham feel there are still many questions left unanswered and they have their suspicions of two other people as well. However, they remain steadfast in their belief of Latham’s involvement in the death of Tami.

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