SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – On what would have been Rosie Tapia’s 30th birthday, investigators are now asking – could a Barbie doll be the clue in solving her murder?
Tapia was only six years old when someone removed the screen from her family’s ground-floor apartment near 1700 South and 1700 West and kidnapped her while she was sleeping. That was on August 13, 1995.
She was raped and murdered before her body was found in a canal off the Jordan River, not far from her family’s apartment.
“On Rosie’s 30th birthday, I just wonder what she would have looked like,” said her mother, Lewine.
Shortly after Tapia was buried at the Salt Lake City Cemetery, someone left a Barbie doll on her grave and her family has kept it in their possession since that time.
Members of the Utah Cold Case Coalition, a nonprofit organization, said recently, two possible people of interest in the case have been identified who had some fixation with Barbies. They have arranged for DNA to be gathered from the doll as part of their efforts to help solve the murder.
The method that will be used is called the ‘Bardole Method,’ which uses a forensic tool called the M-Vac. The tool is able to take evidence that is porous or has little areas where traditional tools like swabs cannot reach. The vacuum hose sprays out a clean solution on top of the evidence. As it’s spraying out the buffer solution, it sucks the solution back into the bottle to collect skin cells from individuals who have touched the evidence.
However, the process is costly and the coalition is asking the public for help before they proceed with the DNA testing. Karra Porter, co-founder of the Utah Cold Case Coalition said there are also two types of DNA testing, which may hinder their chances of finding a match.
“There’s a problem with using DNA on cold cases in this country and that’s a lack of resources,” said Porter.
If anyone knows who placed the doll on Tapia’s grave, they are asking that person to contact them through the coalition tip line at 385-258-3313 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“There are 206 cold cases in Utah. That means there are 205 other families who are feeling what Rosie Tapia’s family have been feeling,” said Francine Bardole, the developer of the Bardole Method. “With all these cold cases, if we work together, the community comes forward with any information they have and we work as a team, the cold cases can be solved much easily than separately.”
When asked if she was hopeful in the new clue, Tapia’s mother said she had mixed feelings.
“I’m not getting my hopes up because I’ve been let down so many times through the years. But if something good comes out of it, I’ll be grateful for it,” said Lewine Tapia. “I just don’t want to leave this world without knowing who took her and why they took her, so I’m hoping the Lord will let me live until they can find who took my daughter.”