SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – The resemblance is uncanny. And it could lead to a person of interest in the 1995 Rosie Tapia murder. The 6-year-old’s killer has never been found.
Wednesday, a witness picked a photo in a lineup that resembles a composite he helped create in March.
A year ago, the Justice Files first told you of the witness who saw a suspicious teen leave the scene where Rosie Tapia’s body was discovered the next day. The witness lived near the canal and claimed he saw the young man in wet clothes walk past him the same night Rosie disappeared.
The witnesses who saw the teen didn’t want his identity revealed. But he said when the murder happened he approached Salt Lake City police with the information of the teen. But he claimed detectives never returned to interview him.
Police did release the composite to the public this summer and it closely resembles one that was created in 2010.
“We also have a photo array of 6 photos from the phone-in leads,” said the family’s private investigator Jason Jensen.
The investigator also brought eight other photos taken from a 1995 high school yearbook from a local high school.
Jensen carefully instructed the witness on how the photos were selected.
The goal is to see if the witness can identify from these photos the teen who he saw that night.
ABC4 will not show any of the photos at this time.
“There may be somebody there, there may not be somebody there,” Jensen told the witness as he laid out the photos.
The witness quickly rejected the yearbook photos and concentrated on the pictures of young men. Jensen said the six photos were gathered from tips by the public.
“The only one that even comes close is that one right there,” the witness said. “This is actually the shape of the eyes that I was looking for.”
The photo selected resembled the composite and according to Jensen, he is someone known by a member of the Tapia family.
“This photo that was selected by the witness came from a family member’s friend who says this looks like ….” Jensen said.
Rosie’s parents were also watching as the witness went through all the photos.
“I am not sure (who he is) because I don’t recognize the photo,” said Lewine Tapia, Rosie’s mother. But it could be somebody that the family knows.”
The Tapias and their investigator plan another photo lineup with another daughter.
In 1995, she answered the door when a young man mysteriously showed up carrying Rosie. The daughter claimed the stranger said Rosie had been injured. It was the day before she was murdered.
Attempts to reach Salt Lake City police were unsuccessful.
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- The Justice Files: Justice on hold again
- The Justice Files: Cold case murder suspect remained under the police radar