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Family hopes missing persons movement leads to solving the murder of Akosita Kaufusi


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SALT LAKE CITY — Eighteen months have passed since Akosita Kaufusi's body was found near the Saltair.

"Nothing," Makalita Ofa, her aunt, said. "Nothing at all."

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.

Call or text Unified Police at the non-emergency line: 801-743-7000.

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Morgan Wolfe

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