Missing woman’s stepdad held on unrelated charge

Published 6:12 pm Friday, October 9, 2009

A missing Mississippi woman’s stepfather, who has a history of alleged sexual abuses in Mississippi and Louisiana, was being held without bond Friday on unrelated child pornography charges.

Robert Triplett, 56, is the stepfather of 21-year-old Kaila Morris, who disappeared from their home in east Mississippi’s Lowndes County on Sept. 17. Authorities say he was the last person to see her, but he has not been named publicly as a suspect.

Lowndes County Justice Court Judge Peggy Phillips denied Triplett bond Tuesday due to a hold for the Mississippi Department of Corrections, which stems from a 2003 attempted sexual battery charge. The charge was amended to aggravated assault in 2007, but Triplett remained on 10 years probation.

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Triplett, who was not accompanied by a lawyer at this week’s hearing, must meet with his probation officer to discuss the alleged violation. A revocation hearing before the sentencing judge will determine whether Triplett will serve time for the 2003 charge due to the recent alleged violation, the judge said.

Police say explicit images of minors were found on computers at Triplett’s home during the investigation into Morris’ disappearance, the Commercial Dispatch newspaper in Columbus reported. He was arrested Saturday.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Triplett had obtained an attorney. A call to a number listed for him was not answered on Friday.

Investigators haven’t found any evidence to link Triplett to Morris’ disappearance, said Lt. Tony Perkins, an investigator with the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office.

“We’re still trying to eliminate everybody (as a suspect) and we haven’t been able to do that yet,” said Perkins. “Of course, (Triplett) was a concern to start with because of his past and the fact that he was the last person to see (Kaila) alive, but at this point he’s still not a suspect. We don’t have anything to go on either way.”

Triplett was charged with forcible rape in 1997 in Covington, La., and sentenced to serve six years in prison. Those charges were remanded for rehearing in 2001 and reduced to simple battery. After the victim in the case refused to testify, the charges were dismissed.

Triplett has said Morris planned to visit a friend in Carrollton, Ala., and left with unknown people in a van, authorities said.