Akosita Kaufusi’s Salt Lake homicide case still unsolved, remains an active murder investigation

    It’s been one year after a body of a Tongan woman in Salt Lake city was found dead and authorities are still continuing to investigate.

    The family of Akosita Kaufusi is raising awareness around Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Garna Mejia, KSL-TV)

    Police have treated the suspicious death of Akosita Kaufusi, 42, in far western Salt Lake County near the Great Saltair as a homicide.

    Salt Lake Investigators discovered Kaufusi had been shot on August 2020.

    Her body was discovered by a jogger about a half mile east of Saltair near an I-80 frontage road. She had been deceased “at least several days,” reports said.

    Last month, eighteen months after Kaufusi’s body was found, her family talked to media to raise their concerns.

    “Nothing,” Makalita Ofa, her aunt, said. “Nothing at all”, reported KSL.com.

    Ofa was frustrated seeing the resources dedicated to finding Gabby Petito, and the worldwide attention that was drawn for the white 22-year-old.

    “It’s awful what happened to her,” Ofa said. “I just think the attention needs to be on everyone.”

    Ofa has been raising awareness around Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls ever since she experienced it firsthand.

    Every four out of five Indigenous women experience violence in their lifetime, according to the Urban Indian Health Institute. On top of that, Indigenous women are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than all other ethnicities, according to the National Institute of Justice.

    “It’s an epidemic,” Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said.

    Romero is leading a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ task force and trying to secure $130,000 in state funding to collect updated data in the state, expand preventative education, and explore jurisdiction handlings on these cases.

    Ofa thinks there is a dire need to help Indigenous women, and just all women of color in general that experience disproportionate rates of abuse.

    “I know that the tribal lands are very skeptical of others coming into their community. There is just a lack of trust, but I think it is time to build that bridge,” Ofa said. “That is the only way we are going to solve this.”

    Anyone with information that leads to an arrest in the murder of Akosita Kaufusi could receive a reward of up to $5,000.

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