Investigators in Utah believe a Barbie doll left at a gravesite could be a key piece of evidence in cracking a 24-year-old cold case involving the rape and murder of a little girl.
The Utah Cold Case Coalition announced at a press conference Thursday that the Barbie “may be a valuable tool” in helping to solve the slaying of 6-year-old Rosie Tapia, Fox 13 reported. Although the coalition has arranged for DNA testing on the doll, they’re first asking the public if anyone knows who placed the Barbie on Rosie’s grave.
“Two possible persons of interest in the case have been identified who had some fixation with Barbies,” the coalition said in a news release. “But before a costly analysis is performed on the DNA, the coalition is asking whether someone knows who placed the doll on Rosie’s grave.”
The little girl was reportedly abducted from the bedroom of her Salt Lake City home, before being raped and murdered on August 13, 1995. Her remains were discovered “several hours later in a canal off the Jordan River.”
— FOX 13 News Utah (@fox13) January 17, 2019
Yesterday’s press conference marked the day that Rosie would’ve turned 30 years old.
“I’m hoping the Lord will let me live until we find the person who took my daughter,” Rosie’s mother, Lewine Tapia, told the news station. “She was a happy child. She always had a smile on her face.”
The victim was laid to rest at the Salt Lake City Cemetery, where her mother said she has discovered several items that she’s held onto, including the Barbie.
The co-founder of the Utah Cold Case Coalition, Salt Lake attorney Karra Porter, said “factors” involving the doll have pointed at it being a “valuable tool,” though she said she wasn’t at liberty to elaborate.
“I can just say there were two things, two factors about the Barbie doll that led us to believe it needed to be tested, and I can’t go into any further detail than that. Sorry.”
However, the coalition divulged that the doll has brought “two possible persons of interest” to light.
“Two possible persons of interest in the case have been identified who had some fixation with Barbies,” a press release by the coalition stated.
The doll was described by private investigator Jason Jensen as being “a Sweetheart Barbie that was manufactured in 1994.”
In the agonizing years without answers since Rosie’s disappearance, her mother said she has managed to keep the Barbie in pristine condition, as reported by the Deseret News.
“I’ve had granddaughters growing up and they wanted to play with the doll and I told them no, that was Rosie’s doll and that stays in the case. So they couldn’t touch it,” Lewine said.
Anyone who may have left the doll at the gravesite is being asked to come forward, Porter urged.
“If somebody will come forward and say, ‘I know who left that there,’ or, ‘I left that there,’ then we may be able to confirm that…that might save those resources,” Porter stated.
A forensic analyst with West Jordan City Police, Jordan Bordole, described the new-age process.
“In this buffer solution are the skin cells from those who have touched the evidence,” she said.
Anyone with information regarding the Barbie doll and/or case is urged to call the Utah Cold Case Coalition at 801-386-6621.
[Feature Photo: Rosie Tapia/Salt Lake City Police Department, Sweetheart Barbie/Fox 13 screengrab]