"Roman was a really smart, goofy, little boy. He loved trains and he loved cars."
Trigger warning: contains graphic details that may be distressing to some.
When 11-year-old Roman Anthony Lopez went missing, a widespread search was led to find out what happened to the boy who had been living with his biological father and stepmother. The day after he was reported missing, the police found the boy's body and it was clear to the investigators that he suffered some sort of abuse before his life came to an end.
"I don't know what happened to him. I don't know if he was in pain. And I don't know if he was missing me or what was going on," Roman's biological mother, Shelly told KCRA 3 after her son's body was found. "...I want to find out what happened to my son."
It took about a year for Roman's family to finally see arrests and charges announced in connection to the boy's death, and the culprits were none other than Roman's father and stepmother, Jordan Piper and Lindsay Piper.
On January 11, 2020, the police were told that Roman went missing and the public were asked for help to find the boy. Those who worked with Roman's father, Jordan, also joined in the search that began after the sun went down.
Several neighbors tell me police came to their homes last night asking if they’d seen the boy. They say officers then searched their property. pic.twitter.com/q0Mn4lv646— Emily Maher (@EmilyMaherTV) January 12, 2020
Hours later, on January 12, investigators found the boy's body kept inside a storage bin in the family's basement. "It’s so sad," Jordyn Gilmore, who lives next door to the family, told KCRA 3. "Who would’ve thought your next-door neighbor? Things happen, and it’s just crazy."
Jordan, Lindsay, and their 8 children, aged between 1 and 17, had only moved to the house in 2892 Coloma Street in the City of Placerville, in California about a couple of months before Roman's death. The family reportedly moved a lot, which made it harder for investigators to find details related to the case.
When the boy's mother spoke to KCRA, she revealed that Roman primarily lived with his father and said, "Roman was a really smart, goofy, little boy. He loved trains and he loved cars and he loved being in the water. He was a little water bug."
Shelly didn't even know that Jordan, Roman, and the rest of their family had moved to California and only found out after someone she knew came across an article that reported his death.
Although Roman's body showed no obvious signs of having suffered abuse, investigators could clearly see that he was "severely malnourished and dehydrated at the time of his death," authorities said, as reported by KCRA.
As details of the case came out, it was revealed that his stepmother allegedly poisoned Roman's drinking water. Lindsay and Jordan are also accused of abusing and torturing the child before his death, according to The Sun.
On February 5, El Dorado County District Attorney revealed on Facebook revealed the arrests and charges in Roman's case. The announcement said: "Jordan Piper, 36, and Lindsay Piper, 38, the father and stepmother of Roman respectively, face multiple criminal charges including Child Abuse, Poisoning, and Torture."
Neighbors are relieved by the news and one of them, Melanie Frazer told KCRA 3, "I’m just happy that we’re still bringing light to him because Roman deserves that. I feel like this community really stepped up for him."