Police want Petito-like scrutiny on murder of Akosita Kaufusi

Oct 22, 2021, 5:16 PM
Akosita Kaufusi...
Photo of Akosita Kaufusi, 42, whose body was found on the south shore of the Great Salt Lake in August, 2020. Photo: Unified Police Dept.

SALT LAKE CITY — As the case of Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito begins to wind down, the cold case of Akosita Kaufusi in Utah remains unsolved. 

On Thursday the body of Brian Laundrie was identified in Florida. He had gone missing after the discovery of Gabby Petito’s body in Wyoming. She was his fiancée and was determined by a medical examiner to have died of strangulation.

The case of Akosita Kaufusi

A jogger first spotted the body of Akosita Kaufusi, 42, 1/2 mile east of Saltair resort in Magna. She was found near the southern end of the Great Salt Lake in August of 2020. Police say she died from a gunshot to the head. No arrests have been made in the case. 

Police have increased the reward from $1,500 to $5,000 for information in the case. Call Unified Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit at 385-468-9800 or 801-743-7000 with information.

Her family deserves to know

Sgt. Melody Cutler of the Unified Police Department (UPD) joined Debbie Dujanovic and Dave Noriega with an update on the Kaufusi case.

“Melody, I know that the Unified Police Department upped the reward offer for this case for information leading to a suspect, leading to an arrest,” said Debbie.

“Has that brought in more tips?”

“Unfortunately, no,” Cutler said. “Her family deserves to know who did this. They deserve to know why. And it’s really important to us that we find out those answers as well.”

She added that if listeners who have been talking about Gabby Petito’s disappearance and death could open up and talk about other cold cases, like Akosita Kaufusi’s, maybe someone who possibly knows something could come forward and speak about what they know.

Small details can be big clues

If somebody’s memory is jogged, Dave asked, what kinds of information would be helpful to police in solving the Kaufusi murder?

Cutler said sometimes the smallest clues lead to the missing piece that solves an entire homicide case.

“Did you see something suspicious maybe out at Saltair?” Cutler asked. “Even if you were out in that area, and you saw a vehicle out there that maybe was stopped by the side of the road. You thought they were just maybe looking at the stars or something, something like that.”

If privacy or anonymity is important to a potential tipster, Debbie asked, in the Kaufusi murder or in any other case involving a violent homicide or potentially violent suspect, can the UPD provide assurances that the tipster will remain safe. 

“We always want people to understand that being anonymous is completely acceptable,” Cutler said.

Contact the Unified Police Department with any information about the Kaufusi homicide or any other criminal case at UPDSL.org.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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