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Rosie Tapia
Rosie Tapia was 6 years old when she was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City apartment and sexually assaulted on August 13th, 1995. Her body was discovered several hours later in a canal off the Jordan River.

by: Marcos Ortiz
Posted: Jan 26, 2019 / 12:01 AM MST / Updated: Jan 26, 2019 / 05:42 AM MST


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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – He kept this information to himself for more than 23-years.
But it may help solve the mystery behind Rosie Tapia’s murder.
In 1995, the 6-year-old was abducted from her bedroom. Her body was found in a canal near the apartment complex where her family lived.
But in the early morning hours of August 13, 1995, a man who wants to remain anonymous was standing outside his home.  He said he saw a white pickup truck parked near the bridge by the canal near 1500 West and 1700 South in Salt Lake City.  He saw a man in the pickup leave.
“And as he did that, a kid come walking down the sidewalk and what I noticed about him when he come under the light was that he had on denim pants,” said the man. “But from about the knees down, they were dark, dark colored and from the knees up they weren’t that dark.”
He thought the teen was flared pants which were a style worn in the late 1960s.
But that changed when he said the teen got within three feet of him.
“And when he come walking by me the sidewalk was wet,” he said.  “But when he walked by me I realized his pants were wet.”
Police found Rosie’s body in the canal.  
He said he tried passing that information to police the very day they started investigating the case.  But he claimed no  one would talk to him. He told a few people what he saw that morning.

About three years later, he met with police after a relative told them what he witnessed. Police gave him several images of men and asked him to create a composite.
“I was looking at them and I was, I can’t make a face out of these,” the witness recalled telling police at the time. “Who I was talking about was way younger. These pictures don’t match up. These look like these hardened criminal males.”
He said he left when police wouldn’t help him create a younger image. And he never talked about what he saw that night again. That is until this week when ABC4 News received a tip and tracked him down.
Thursday, Rosie’s mother met him for the first time at his home and he told her what he saw that night 23 years ago. She had never heard this before.
“I was stunned ’cause I always figured it was somebody older and I didn’t think it was somebody younger,” she told ABC4 News.
Salt Lake City police did release a composite in 2010, but it was of an older white man.   The witness said that’s not the person he saw.  He claimed to have seen a Hispanic teenager.
“(He was) between 16-and-18 (years old),” he said.  “Really thin. He had a gold chain, a real shiny gold chain around his neck.  His hair was cut neat.  It was combed straight back.”
Rosie’s mother wished he would have come forward years ago. But she said she understood why he didn’t.
“He got discouraged,” she said.  “So hopefully now they’ll listen to help find this person.” 
Tapias said she was also discouraged with police at the outset of the investigation.
“They seemed to not really care,” she said.
But now the witness told Tapia and her private investigator who was also present, that he will talk with police. They’re hoping police will work with him to create a new composite of the teen and do an age progression composite as well.
The Justice Files: A break? Or just a coincidence in Rosie Tapia cold case
by: Marcos Ortiz

Posted: Jan 15, 2020 / 07:04 PM MST / Updated: Jan 15, 2020 / 10:35 PM MST

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Danny Woodland was prepared to be interviewed by police after Rosie Tapia was found murdered.

Twenty-four years later, he is still waiting.

Back in 1995, he admitted to sneaking into the same bedroom where Rosie slept. But Woodland’s purpose was to meet her older sister.

“That was (older sister’s) bedroom,” Woodland said.

But then she moved out of the house and Rosie and her twin siblings took over the room.

Tapia was kidnapped from her bedroom. The intruder used the window to get in. Her killer has never been arrested.

From the outset, police targeted family members but it turned into a dead end.

It now appears the police didn’t either ask or knew of these acquaintances of Rosie’s older sister.

“I was waiting because of the situation with me going in that window,” Woodland said. “I was just shocked that the cops never come and called me or anything.”

He watched the news of Rosie’s tragic death and has watched for developments. Woodland said the Tapia family needs closure.

“It’s been long enough, cops should have solved this from day one,” he said. “The family needs closure and it happened 24 years ago.”

But last spring, Woodland said he got a phone call from a friend that he used to hang with during that time period.

The call came after the creation of the latest composite was reported exclusively on ABC4 in March. At the time, only partial images of the composite were released until the police had a chance to investigate it first.

“He made the comment that ‘it would be funny if it looked like one of us,'” Woodland said. “(Referring to) the friends that hung out around there, especially me because of me sneaking in the window.”

Back in 1995, Woodland used the same bedroom window where Rosie was abducted to have late-night rendezvous with her older sister.

He said his friend and others would drop him off. Woodland said his friend knew of the window.

“Yeah, yeah, he saw me climb in it,” Woodland said.

But Woodland said he never saw the friend climb through the window. But he did come inside through the main doors when the parents were gone.

“Yeah he went with me,” he said.

This latest revelation took Rosie’s mother by surprise.

“I guess they sat around the table and had a few beers and I found out my mother was there too when they came,” said Lewine Tapia. “I never knew anything about this.”

When the composite was officially released in May, Woodland text his friend.

“I text him and said ‘that looks like you dude,'” Woodland recalled saying. “He called me back ‘no that ain’t me. It looks like you, it looks more like you than it did me.’”

A witness who was also never interviewed by police helped create the composite in March.

Last week, in a photo lineup conducted by the Tapia’s private investigator, the same witness picked his friend out.

“The guy that done it, he’s got 24 free years,” Woodland said. “I mean he ought to at least be a decent human being about it, (have) some dignity. Give the family some closure.”

Woodland said his friend denied having anything to do with Rosie’s murder.

He said Salt Lake City police paid his friend a visit Tuesday. Woodland told him he shouldn’t worry if he’s innocent. He told his friend DNA will give police their answer.

Woodland also said if the police want his DNA as well, he’s ready to offer it.

A spokesman for Salt Lake City police said they will investigate any new leads that come to their office, but the spokesman said they had no comment about this latest information.

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