The Justice Files: DNA sought in Rosie Tapia murder investigation

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – A source claimed police are seeking DNA from a man in the Rosie Tapia murder investigation.

Salt Lake City police will not confirm the investigation. But the information, if true, could answer questions about recent discoveries made by ABC4.

Six-year-old Rosie Tapia was taken from her bedroom and murdered in 1995. Her body was found in a canal that borders the apartments where her family lived.
To date, her killer has not been arrested.

The person of interest surfaced after a series of reports on The Justice Files. It began one year ago. That’s when a witness who has never been interviewed by police spoke to ABC4 and claimed to have seen a young man leaving the canal in wet clothing. The next day, Rosie’s body was found.

A professional police sketch artist volunteered to do a composite. The witness and the sketch artist created the composite at the ABC4 studios.

“It looks very close to him,” the witnessed told artist Michael Streed when the drawing was finished.

The witness who did not want to be identified lived near the canal where Rosie’s body was found.

The composite got the attention of Danny Woodland who claimed it looked like his longtime friend.

Before Rosie’s murder, Woodland used a window to sneak into the apartment and visit the little girl’s older sister.

It’s the same window the kidnapper used to take Rosie. During an interview in January, Woodland said his friend would sometimes drive him to the apartment.

Marcos: “Was he aware of the window?”
Woodland: “Yeah, yeah, he saw me climb in it.”

During a photo lineup, also done at the ABC4 studios, the witness picked a picture of Woodland’s friend.

Woodland: “I text him and said ‘that looks like you dude.'”

He said his friend denied it was him. But Salt Lake police learned of both these men and contacted Jason Jensen, the Tapia’s private investigator. In an email, investigators asked Jensen for the names of Woodland and his friend.

Tuesday, Woodland sent a text to ABC4.

He texted that his “(friend) done DNA and talked to them I meet with them on 26 (of this month).”

Police have a history of keeping Rosie’s mother in the dark about the investigation. She said this is no different. But Lewine Tapia said it’s encouraging to know the police may be taking action.

“I’m very pleased that we’ve finally got them moving to help solve this case,” Tapia said.

As this case approaches 25 years, Tapia is aware of past leads that went nowhere. That’s why she’s remained cautious about this latest information.

“Over the years, I’ve always heard things and got my hopes up and then fall down,” she said. “It just makes me depressed.”

A spokesman with the police department said their investigation continues but had no comment about the request for DNA.

But even if DNA was taken, police could ask the state attorneys general to fast track the process. If not, police will have to rely on the state lab which could take several months before test results are known.

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