New Suspect Sketch Released In SLC Murder Cold Case

May 8, 2019, 6:15 PM | Updated: 6:17 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah —  The Utah Cold Case Coalition released this new sketch today of a possible suspect in the murder of Rosie Tapia, giving new hope to the girl’s family.

The murder remains one of Utah’s most infamous cold cases, nearly 24 years after the six-year-old girl was abducted through her apartment window. The coalition needs the public’s help to identify the person.

“She was a happy little girl. She always had a big smile on her face,” said Lewine Tapia, Rosie Tapia’s mother.

She is still anxious for her daughter’s killer to be caught. Lewine Tapia has waited for a break in her daughter’s murder since August 13, 1995.

“When I look back at her pictures and see that smile, it just breaks my heart because I don’t have her here to see that smile anymore,” she said..

Somebody abducted Rosie through her ground level bedroom window at the old Hartland Apartments, in the Glendale neighborhood. The killer took her to the Jordan River canal, nearby, and sexually assaulted and killed Rosie. No one has ever been arrested in connection with the case.

The Utah Cold Case Coalition was founded a year-and-a-half ago to stimulate leads for this case in that neighborhood. The witness who worked with the sketch artist tells the coalition the likeness is not exact, but good.

“He felt pretty comfortable that that was pretty close,” said Jason Jensen, a private investigator with the Utah Cold Case Coalition.  “It’s very possible that this is Rosie’s killer that he observed.”

Jensen said the witness still lives near the apartments, and came forward the day the coalition was announced. The witness had previously been in contact with Salt Lake City police but did not sit down with a sketch artist to come up with a drawing.

“He approached us and told us his story that he observed some suspicious teenager leaving the area and he wanted to get that message out to us,” said Jensen.

The witness told Jensen and Lewine Tapia he saw a 16 or 17-year-old male walking across a bridge over the Jordan Surplus Canal wearing denim jeans wet from the knees down.  He’s around 5’8″ to 5’10” tall.

“I do feel hopeful that one day will find the person that took her,” said Tapia.”It just frustrates me sometimes.”

Tapia thinks about her daughter all the time. Rosie would have been 30. Her twin siblings are now 27.

“It just hurts because I don’t have her here to see what she would look like,” said Lewine Tapie.

She imagines her as a young woman with long black hair. It’s hard not knowing what her daughter would have become.

“Maybe she would’ve been married, and had kids of her own,” she said.

The investigator said they were already getting tips earlier today. If you recognize the person in the sketch contact the Utah Cold Case Coalition.

“Let’s make this the year that we solve Rosie’s case,” said Tapia.

Salt Lake City Police previously released another sketch of a suspect, though that man has not been identified. Police gave the coalition permission to release this latest sketch.

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New Suspect Sketch Released In SLC Murder Cold Case