LOCAL NEWS

Police triple reward for information in 2020 death of Akosita Kaufusi

Sep 5, 2021, 11:21 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — No arrests have been made in what police suspect was a horrific murder of a 42-year-old woman named Akosita Kaufusi, who’s body was found near the Saltair in Magna.

It’s why police announced a major update in the case.

Police said they’re positive multiple people know what happened and who the suspect is. It’s why they more than tripled the reward from $1,500 to $5,000, in hopes that Kaufusi’s case won’t go unsolved.

 Everyday, thousands of people drive past the Saltair, yet nobody has come forward about what they witnessed there.

“She was face down on those rocks,” said Sgt. Melody Cutler with the Unified Police Department.

On Aug. 29, 2020, the north side of the frontage road, West North Temple Street, became the scene of a chilling discovery.

Cutler vividly remembers the day.

“To have somebody that’s just left out here on the side of the roadway, and to really have nobody coming forward to say what happened is heart wrenching,” she said.

The remains belonged to 42-year-old Akosita Kaufusi.

Police can now say with confidence that she died from a gunshot to her head, but they’re not sure if she was killed where her body was found.

The area is about a half mile east of the Saltair.

“What they found through the autopsy is she was probably out here for almost two weeks,” said Cutler.

During those two weeks, Kaufusi’s family, including her father and sister who live in Roosevelt, tried desperately to contact her, watching as her social media activity went silent.

“It’s just like it happened yesterday. We’re still dealing with all the emotions,” said Kaufusi’s cousin, Lita Kaufusi-Ofa.

Kaufusi is of Ute heritage.

Sadly, these types of cases are all too common among Native American women, who are two times more likely to be murdered than other women, according to the Indian Health Service.

“Akosita is one of those numbers, and I don’t want her to be a number; I want her to be Akosita,” said Kaufusi-Ofa. “She has family, loved ones who care about her.”

Unfortunately, far too many cases identified as Missing Murdered Indigenous Women, like Kaufusi’s, go unsolved.

“The detective [in Akosita’s case] is very adamant multiple people out there know what happened,” said Cutler.

It’s why police and Kaufusi’s family are pleading for the community’s help in identifying the suspect.

“Again, we’ve got someone who’s out there walking the streets. This could possibly be your daughter,” said Kaufusi-Ofa.

Anyone with information has been asked to contact the Unified Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit at 385-468-9800 or dispatch at 801-743-7000.

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Police triple reward for information in 2020 death of Akosita Kaufusi