A new witness and a sketch artist may yield a new lead in the 1995 murder of 6-year-old Rosie Tapia, according to the Utah Cold Case Coalition.
The nonprofit group Wednesday released a sketch of a young man, based on the recollections of a neighbor at the Hartland Apartments, 1616 W. Snow Queen Place (1675 South) in Salt Lake City’s Glendale neighborhood, where Tapia and her family lived.
Rosie was abducted from the apartment on Aug. 13, 1995. She was raped and murdered, and her body found the same morning a few blocks away in a canal off the Jordan River near 1900 South and 1600 West.
According to the Utah Cold Case Coalition, the neighbor, who does not want to be identified, was up early and was outside when he saw a teenager coming from the direction of the canal. The teen seemed to be wearing pants that were two different colors, but the man later realized the teen’s pants were wet.
The witness said the teen appeared to be either 16 or 17, Hispanic, with a slight build, and a narrow face with high cheekbones. He was wearing denim jeans, a white shirt and a medium-length gold chain.
Publicity about the case last March prompted a retired California police sergeant, Michael Streed, to contact the coalition. Streed, now a certified forensic sketch artist, volunteered to help make a sketch for no charge. The coalition connected Streed and the witness via video hookup to produce the new sketch. The witness said Streed’s finished sketch is “highly accurate,” the coalition said in a news release.
The neighbor had been in contact with the Salt Lake City police, but never sat down with a sketch artist before now. Police had released another sketch of a suspect in 2010, with no results. Police gave the coalition permission to release the new sketch.
Anyone who recognizes the person in the sketch, or has other information is encouraged to contact Salt Lake City police’s non-emergency number, 801-799-3000, or the coalition’s confidential tip line, 801-258-3313.