Family Seeks Answers In Woman’s Death Near Saltair

Sep 18, 2020, 9:51 PM | Updated: Nov 29, 2022, 11:10 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The family of a woman whose body was found near Saltair has been clinging to hope that someone would come forward with information on her death, as they prepared to lay her to rest.

Unified Police are investigating after the body of 42-year-old Akosita Kaufusi, a Native American woman, was found on the rocks outside Saltair. 

Akosita’s family said they will forever be impacted by their loss.

“Our tradition is deep,” said Kelo Kaufusi, Akosita’s dad.

This is a sacred time.

“In old native culture and Polynesian culture, they meet today and show the power of love,” he said.

This is the last night Akosita Kaufausi will spend with her family.

“Akosita is my oldest daughter, my first born in the land,” Kelo said.

With her big sister heart, she was always thinking of others.

“This girl would share everything she got,” he continued.

But then unexpectedly, Akosita vanished.

“Losing her destroyed our whole family,” he said.

After two weeks of silence, she finally turned up all alone, dead on the side of the road with no sign of who or why.

But Friday night, she was surrounded by those who love her most.

As part of her mother’s Ute heritage, they kindled her last fire.

“This is her last day with us,” he said. “When the fire goes out, then she leaves to the Creator — that’s why we keep the fire going all night, so she’s here with us all the time.”

With the departure of her spirit, Akosita’s body is ready for its final resting place.

“I miss her. I love her,” said Akosita’s father.

Her family, including her father prepare to send her off.

“You may wonder why are we covering up that beautiful box, but this is how we do it in the islands,” said Rich Kaufusi, Akosita’s uncle.

Sent all the way from Tonga, the handwoven Ngatu mats are a gift from Akosita’s female relatives.

“When you are born, you are born in a Ngatu, and when you leave this life, you also leave wrapped in a Ngatu as well,” he continued.

Akosita grew up wrapped in the heart of two cultures.

“I asked them about the significance of the drumming,” Rich said. “It was mentioned that it’s the drumbeat of your heart.”

Murder is the third leading cause of death for Native American women.

Akosita’s family wants change.

“Just think about your own sister,” Kelo said.

As they wait for answers, with little hope, they have to let go.

“I love you, whoever the person that did this,” he continued. 

Anyone with information has been asked to contact Unified Police. 

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Family Seeks Answers In Woman’s Death Near Saltair