The Justice Files: Time is critical for Rosie Tapia’s mother

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Lewine Tapia is aware time is not on her side.

Tapia hopes she’ll see the day Justice for Rosie happens.

“It don’t get easier, it gets harder because with Rosie I feel like we’re not getting anywhere in the case,” said Tapia on the anniversary of her daughter’s unsolved murder.

For more than two decades, she brings her grandchildren, packs a lounge chair, gathers balloons, brings flowers and posters of her daughter and heads to the Mt. Calvary cemetery to reflect on Rosie’s life.

On August 13, 1995 Rosie was taken from her bedroom, sexually assaulted and dumped into a nearby canal near 1700 South and Redwood Road in Salt Lake City.

Her body was found the next day by someone walking along the banks of the canal.

“All I want to do is solve her case before something happens to me and I’m not able to do anything,” she said.

In 2019, ABC4 and a private investigator helped develop a new composite of a possible person of interest.

It was created from a neighbor who police overlooked in 1995 and to date was never interviewed by authorities.

As a result of the composite a man was brought in for questioning and agreed to offer DNA.

Recently, police notified the family to let them know it wasn’t a match to the DNA collected at the crime scene.

“But we’re not going to give up hope,” said Jason Jensen, the family’s private investigator.

Jensen learned that in 1995 friends of Rosie’s older sister often used the window to pay the sister late-night visits. The person of interest was one of those friends.

“What we feel is the fact that this individual lives in the neighborhood it’s probably his circle of friends,” Jensen said. That maybe the witness didn’t see the killer, but the witness saw a friend of the killer. The time of night was accurate and the fact that he had wet pants can’t be ignored.”

It’s just another long line of setbacks for Lewine Tapia and her family.

In 2020, another daughter Emilia Williams, also passed away adding to Tapia’s sorrow.

“So with 2 daughters now gone, it’s a lot harder because I think about them all the time,” she said.

But it’s the living, like her grandchildren that give her strength to continue. She understands time is not on her side but she hopes she’ll see justice for Rosie before her time is up.

“It’s been 26-years please step up and give us information,” pleaded Tapia. “That’s all I ask, is to help solve this case.”

Anyone with information can reach Jason Jensen, the investigator and also a co-founder of the Utah Cold Case Coalition. Salt Lake City Police also have a tip line for anyone who wants to provide information but stay anonymous.

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