SALT LAKE CITY – A promising lead is breathing new life into a decades-old cold case.
Lewine Tapia’s daughter, Rosie, would have been 30-years-old this year.
“It’s kind of hard because I miss her a lot,” Tapia said.
However, she only lives in her mother’s memories. It was August 1995 when police say six-year-old Rosie was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City apartment. She was sexually assaulted before her body was disposed in a canal off the Jordan river.
Police have had few leads over the years until now.
“Now that the sketch is out I`m grateful and hopefully it will get some new leads,” Tapia said.
A new suspect sketch has been provided by a neighbor who lived near the apartment complex where Rosie was abducted almost 24 years ago. He approached Rosie’s mother at a press conference in 2017.
“When the conference was over, he came up to me and told me who he was,” Tapia said.
The neighbor told Rosie’s family that he saw a 16 or 17-year-old teenager coming out of the canal where Rosie’s body was found. He found it suspicious because the bottom half of the teen’s pants were soaking wet. The neighbor told private investigator, Jason Jensen, he tried to tell police on the day they discovered Rosie’s body.
“He stepped out of his home and flagged down the detective hoping to get him to come over so he could tell him what he had seen, and the detective waived him off,” said Jensen.
Three years later in 1998, he couldn’t get that teen suspect out of his mind and filed a police report.
“He gave them a description and I`ve actually seen that report. The description was the same that he still recites to this day,” Jensen said.
“The new sketch should`ve been out back in 1998. If the police would`ve done their job that sketch would`ve come out,” Tapia said.
Despite her frustration with police, Tapia is feeling hopeful about her daughter’s case for the first time in decades.
“Anything to help my daughter Rosie. I encourage everybody who`s lost a loved one not to give up,” Tapia said.
If you recognize the person in the sketch or have any information on this case, please contact the Utah Cold Case Coalition at 801-386-6621.
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Cold Case Coalition announced Thursday it is building a non-profit DNA testing lab to help offset the costs of the expensive procedure, which could end up being the key to cracking hundreds of cold cases across the country.
Utah Cold Case Coalition co-founder Karra Porter said this will be the first non-profit DNA testing facility in the country.
“I don`t think it’s an overstatement to call it revolutionary. There is an enormous amount of evidence in cold cases throughout the country that has not been tested due to budgetary problems,” Porter said.
Francine Bardole, a DNA serologist with the West Jordan Police Department, said sexual assault cases have bogged down state labs and private labs throughout the nation. It’s created high demand which has led to increased costs.
“We`re not just talking $100, $200. We`re talking into the thousands,” Bardole said.
Since most law enforcement agencies are dealing with limited budgets, it’s left critical DNA testing in many cold cases to be put on the back burner.
“We will be able to offer DNA services to law enforcement and families at something they can afford to do,” Porter said.
Investigator Jason Jensen also took the opportunity to provide updates on three prominent Utah cold cases.
First, Susan Powell, the West Valley City mom who went missing in 2009.
“Recently the BLM has authorized us to go forward with our search without insurance recognizing that Congress recently passed the Good Samaritan Act,” Jensen said.
In the case of Rosie Tapia, a six-year-old girl who was raped and murdered after being abducted from her bedroom in 1995, Jensen said they were able to interview a reluctant witness.
“Based on that media coverage other witnesses have come forward. We have people identified as possible suspects in this case,” Jensen said.
In the case of Elizabeth Salgado, the coalition is asking the public’s help to piece together what the 26-year-old girl did in the 18 days between her arrival in Utah and her abduction.
The Utah Cold Case Coalition has already signed a lease for the lab and it should be up and running by the end of the year if they can raise the $200,000 needed for DNA lab equipment.
There is a GoFundMe page. You can donate here.