Joshua Latham, 26, originally referred to as a “person of interest” in the murder of 41-year-old Tami Diane Higginbotham, whose body was discovered in Newton County on Feb 15, was indicted for Higginbotham’s murder and for tampering with evidence by attempting to hide the woman’s body.
The sad story started when Higginbotham’s sister reported her missing on Feb. 9, saying she had not heard from her sibling since Feb. 7. A news release from the Orange Police Department reported the missing woman was last seen Feb. 8 at approximately 12:30 p.m. and was en route to Orange. Her vehicle was later found at Bluebird Fishing Camp on Simmons Drive in Orange.
Another news release from OPD issued later the same day indicated officers were searching for Latham, who was wanted for a felony probation violation out of Orange County. He was described by the release as “a person of interest in the disappearance of Tami Higginbotham.”
Police caught up with Latham, who had left town with his girlfriend and their baby, in Maryville, Tenn., where the man reportedly had relatives. OPD officers contacted law enforcement officials in Maryville, and Latham was arrested Feb. 14. Orange Police and the Texas Rangers went to Tennessee that very day to interview Latham regarding Higginbotham’s disappearance.
The next day, the worst possible outcome for the friends and family of Higginbotham was realized. Feb. 15 at approximately 5:30 p.m., detectives discovered the body of a white female in Newton County. The body was Tami Higginbotham’s. The report indicated she was found north of Mauriceville in a heavily wooded, hunting-lease area and was brought to the Jefferson County Morgue for an autopsy. The Newton County Sheriff’s Office joined the investigation. No charges were brought against Latham at that time. Since then, reports indicated Higginbotham was meeting Latham to sell or exchange a cell phone, according to Newton County District Attorney Robert Choate.
“That was the story that was told,” Choate said in an interview. “(Latham) has changed his story so many times. He has not confessed. He has told several different stories about what happened. He was arrested in Tennessee where he fled. He provided investigators with the directions to where the body was located.”
Choate said Latham and Higginbotham were acquainted for a short time prior to the murder, from what he knows. He said although Latham continues to give varying accounts of the incident, Choate is confident there is a strong case against the suspect.
Choate brought the case before the grand jury on July 18, and two indictments were returned on Latham as a result. The first indictment charged Latham with murdering Higginbotham “by strangling her with his hands or an unknown object.” The second charged Latham with tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. It stated that on Feb. 8, Latham did “intentionally or knowingly conceal a human corpse … with intent to impair its availability as evidence in the investigation.”
Bonds were set for Latham at $125,000 on the murder charge and $50,000 for tampering with evidence. He has remained incarcerated since his arrest in Tennessee and extradition to Texas.