PLACERVILLE, Calif. — The father and stepmother of a Wisconsin boy are being charged in connection to his death.
Roman Lopez, 11, was found dead in the basement of his father’s home in January of 2020. Few details were released about what happened and his family in Wisconsin wanted answers.
“I don’t know what happened to him,” Shelly Lopez, Roman’s mother said to TMJ4 News last year. “I don’t know if he was in pain and I don’t know if he was missing me or what was going on.”
According to our Sacramento affiliate on Thursday, Jordan Piper, 36 and Lindsay Piper, 38, were charged with child neglect, child abuse, torture and poisoning. Law enforcement alleges Lindsay Piper was poisoning the boy’s water.
“Although an autopsy revealed no obvious signs of trauma, Roman was found to be severely malnourished and dehydrated at the time of his death,” Placerville Police Chief Joseph Wren said.
“It’s been torture,” Nichole Shipley, Roman’s aunt said. “We wanted answers.”
Shipley says the family in Wisconsin has been desperate to understand what happened to Roman. The fun-loving, goofy young boy was a beacon of light in their lives.
Now, that light is gone in one of the darkest ways they could have imagined.
“We’re devastated,” Shipley said. “We’re still devastated. What was his life like? Poor Roman.”
Shipley says her sister is in no condition to talk right now. She has been in therapy since her son’s death. Shelly Lopez, a military veteran, suffers from post-traumatic stress from serving in Iraq. Shipley says, she became addicted to pain medications but has been making tremendous progress.
“She was on the path to getting Roman back,” Shipley said through tears.
Piper had full custody of Roman in Michigan but Shipley says he secretly had moved to California at some point. She feels Piper held custody to domineer Shelly. But she can’t understand why anyone would treat an 11-year-old boy this way.
“What is wrong with them that they would hurt a little boy?” Shipley said. “An innocent, little boy. I think he just wanted to get revenge on my sister. She broke up with him and he wanted her. He just kept Roman to keep him. Obviously, he didn’t want Roman. I don’t think he even loved him.”
Now, the family plans to fly to California for the extent of the trial, so they can finally get all of their questions answered in court. The next question for them is why these two people were not charged with murder.
“Why is it child abuse, child neglect, torture and poisoning?” Shipley said. “Doesn’t that lead to murder? That’s what he died from.”
As terrible as this news was to hear, it’s a step towards them getting some closure.
“[Shipley’s sister] is obviously devastated and taking it really hard,” Shipley said. “We’re happy they’re arrested. I know [Roman] is not in pain anymore. He’s up in heaven saying, Auntie Chole, it’s ok. I’m not in pain anymore. But we’re relieved to know [Jordan and Lindsay Piper] are arrested and they’ll be behind bars for a long, long time.”