The father and stepmother of Roman Lopez, a California boy found deceased in 2020, are now facing murder charges in connection with the child’s death.
Jordan Piper, 36, and Lindsay Piper, 38, were arrested in February in Calaveras County and charged with “child abuse likely to cause great bodily injury or death.” The pair recently learned that they both will now face first-degree murder charges, according to The Sacramento Bee.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, authorities found Roman’s body in January 2020, after police searched extensively around his Placerville neighborhood. Roman lived with his father, stepmother, and seven other children at 2892 Coloma Street. Neighbors said that the family had only recently moved to the area when the incident occurred.
Placerville Police Sgt. John Meuser said last year that Roman’s death was being investigated as “suspicious,” but investigators didn’t provide additional details about the case at the time.
Last year, when he claimed to be searching for his son, Jordan Piper complained that it took two hours for deputies to arrive to look for his son.
“And the only reason we got it is because I physically pulled two deputies over in their department car … so I kept pushing, I kept pushing,” Piper said.
Piper added that around 15 hours after Roman disappeared, authorities found him.
“We have no idea what happened, where they found him, what the autopsy report said, if that’s even done, any suspects, nothing. We have nothing. I’ve called repeatedly, all day long, every day.”
Police eventually found Roman inside a storage bin in the basement of the family’s Placerville home. He was severely dehydrated and malnourished. The murder charges were “slow to develop” because an autopsy didn’t initially find any signs of trauma on the victim.
CBS Sacramento reports that the Placerville Police Department and the DA’s office didn’t say what led to murder charges against the couple but called it “justice for Roman.”
“It’s great news. Justice for Roman is what we have been aiming for this entire investigation. So long as we get justice for that little guy we will be happy,” Dan Maciel, the commander with the Placerville Police Department, said.
According to a previous arrest warrant, Lindsay Piper is accused of poisoning the water that Roman drank. Both Jordan and Lindsey Piper are charged with child abuse and torture. Jordan Piper has an added charge of failure to provide for a child. Lindsay Piper has an added charge of poisoning.
“This is a horrific crime that shocked the community,” said Placerville police Chief Joseph Wren. “The death of a child affects us all. Now it’s time for the perpetrators to face justice.”
Roman’s Biological Mother
Last year, Roman’s biological mother, Shelly Lopez, explained why and how her son ended up in his father’s care.
Roman’s father gained custody of the boy after Shelly suffered from injuries sustained while serving in the U.S. Army and deployed in Iraq. Her injuries resulted in a pain pill addiction. Lopez said that the boy’s father kept him from her and has moved multiple times after he gained custody.
Prior to his death, Lopez hadn’t seen Roman in around two years. She found out about her son’s death last year after family members read an online news story.
“It was my mom and my sister and a family friend, and they sat me down and my mom, she said, ‘It’s Roman,’” Shelly Lopez explained.
“Why didn’t anybody let me know? Why didn’t they even know I existed? People in that town didn’t even know that I was his mother. There are so many things that are wrong with this situation and don’t add up and don’t make sense.”
In April 2021, Shelly Lopez passed away. Family members declined to share how she died.
Meanwhile, the other children in the home have been placed in the care of relatives. Three of the children are now living with an aunt and uncle in Michigan. Their uncle, Jason Brousseau, said that the children are healing and appear happier, but claimed that they were likely abused by the defendants as well.
“You know there was abuse happening in that household,” Jason said. “They were very malnourished. All they wanted to do was eat and drink. How could you deprive a kid of something like that?”
Both suspects remain behind bars. Check back for updates.
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[Featured Photo: Roman Lopez/Handout]