21 years after her murder, Rosa Tapia’s family still hopes for justice

Posted at 8:51 PM, Aug 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-13 22:51:56-04

SALT LAKE CITY - Laying down flowers and pouring water down the front of the tombstone, the family of Rosa Tapia still remains hopeful that Rosa's killer will be found.

"We still have hope, but it's hard," said Lewine Tapia, Rosa's mother.

Lewine's family has had their hopes dashed before. In the 21 years since Rosa's body was found in a Jordan Canal not far from the family's apartment, there's been advances in DNA, and even someone who came forward claiming to know information about the murder.

Tapia says they later learned that person was just trying to receive the reward money.

"It's hard to keep moving forward," Tapia admitted after that letdown.

Her family says she even fell sick after the lead fell through, to the point where she nearly didn't make it. But now, there may be hope once again.

"I saw their social media page," said private investigator Jason Jensen. "I reached out to them to see if I could help."

Jensen said he's worked on the Jonbenet Ramsey and Elizabeth Smart cases in the past, and he felt he might be able to offer some advice, free of charge.

"Rather than the Tapias sit back just waiting to hear from police, with my assistance, I am hoping we can move this case forward," Jensen added.

The Tapias feel confident that whoever is responsible for killing their daughter likely lived in their apartment complex. Jensen is taking that idea and moving it a step forward. Jensen believes Salt Lake City Police Department didn't do enough to question everyone living in the complex at the time. So, he intends to do just that.

"That's where we are at now, digging up former neighbors' names," Jensen said.

He admits, however, that he's run into some obstacles. He said police seem reluctant to give him all the information that pertains to the case, including previous interviews they conducted with neighbors at the time of the murder.

"I am just hoping they can work together," Tapia said.

She may get her wish. This Thursday, Jensen said Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown and the Tapias, with Jensen at their side, hope to sit down and plan a strategy for moving forward.