The Justice Files: A second person of interest uncovered in Rosie Tapia murder

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – A possible second person of interest in the murder of Rosie Tapia was named.

However, it’s unofficial. The person was identified by a Tapia family member in a second photo lineup conducted by their private investigator.

Wednesday, the same pictures were presented to another witness who identified a different person but who is also known to the Tapia Family.

In 1995, the 6-year-old was kidnapped from her home at an apartment complex in Salt Lake City’s west side. The next day, her body was found in a canal that borders the apartment complex.

Ten years ago, the first composite of a young man wearing sunglasses and a cap was created from the memory of Emilia Elizando. Police released the sketch again in 2017 as a reminder that the case remains unsolved.

“He’s always been in my memory because he’s the one that brought Rosie home from the park,” said Elizando in 2017.

Elizondo is Rosie’s older sister. She was at home in 1995 when this mystery man knocked on her door and dropped Rosie off. He claimed she was injured at the playground. The following day Rosie was found murdered. His identity has never been discovered.

“There may be something here, there may not be something here,” said Jason Jensen the family’s private investigator.

Thursday, Jensen conducted a second photo lineup with Elizando. He compiled a series of photos in hopes of identifying the man in the composite.

Elizando was 18 years old back in 1995. She looked at all six photos and ruled out two of the individuals. She identified two people who were relatives of friends but added it was neither of the two men. She finally pointed to two individuals. But one of the men was her own uncle who was in Denver at the time of the abduction. She admitted she didn’t recognize that it was her uncle. The sixth person caught her interest.

“He has more of the facial structure,” she said as she pointed to him.

“He looks similar to the guy?” Jensen then asked.

“Uh-huh (yes),” she answered.

According to Jensen, the man she picked who will not be identified for now, was often seen at the complex. And those he spoke with at the complex said he disappeared and never returned after Rosie was murdered.

There is a second composite created in March and has been the focus of several Justice Files reports. But Elizando didn’t see a resemblance.

Wednesday, a second witness who helped create the second composite also did a photo lineup with Jensen. The second composite was officially released in May.

The man who doesn’t want to be identified lived near the canal where Rosie’s body was found. He claimed a young man who had on wet pants, walked past him on the night Rosie was kidnapped and murdered.

He looked at the same pictures and pointed to a different man who is known to Tapia family members.

“The witness(es) identifying two people of interest, it just has me like in shock,” said Lewine Tapia, Rosie’s mother.

Now there are two possible persons of interest from two different composites.

In August of 2019, I took these two individuals and asked the police to investigate them and they assured me that they would,” Jensen said.

But it’s unknown whether Salt Lake police followed through. A spokesman for the police department said they will review this latest information before issuing any statement.

But according to Jensen, all detectives need to do is compare their DNA with what was found in the crime scene.

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