PLACERVILLE (CBS13) — Over a year after Roman Lopez died, his father and stepmother have been arrested on multiple charges related to the 11-year-old Placerville boy's death.
Jordan Piper, 36, and Lindsay Piper, 38, were taken into custody in Calaveras County early Thursday morning. The Placerville Police Department and El Dorado County District Attorney's Office later announced that the pair were arrested in connection to Roman's death.
As of Friday morning, it's still unknown when the couple will have their first court appearance.
"This is a horrific crime that shocked the community," said Placerville Police Chief Joseph Wren.
After more than a year of releasing few details about the case and circumstances surrounding Roman's death, police and the DA's office revealed more on Thursday.
According to a press release from the police department, Roman had been living with his biological father, Jordan, at a Coloma Street home in Placerville at the time of his disappearance back in January 2020. Jordan, Lindsay, and seven other children -- ranging in age from 1 to 17 years old -- were living in the home along with Roman.
Roman was reported missing on Jan. 11, 2020. Investigators say an initial search for Roman came up empty, but a more extensive search of the home was done later.
Police say Roman's body was then found in a storage bin in the basement.
An autopsy revealed no obvious signs of trauma, but police say Roman was severely malnourished and dehydrated at the time of this death. The complaint says his step-mom poisoned his drinking water.
On Thursday, more than a year after Roman's body was found, Jordan and Lindsay were arrested. The pair are now facing multiple charges, including child abuse, poisoning and torture.
"No one wants to hear we cannot give information regarding an ongoing investigation; to hear 'we are working on it' just seems not enough," said Placerville Mayor Dennis Thomas at a press conference announcing the arrests on Thursday.
Thomas acknowledged how the case - and the lack of details made public - have weighed on the community.
"The chief and I have had many conversations regarding this investigation, and I often was told the same thing: we are working hard on it," Thomas said. "As I looked into his eyes, I know he was telling me the truth."
Previously, Placerville's Police Chief Jim Ortega had called the case one of the toughest of his career.
The Daniel family lives down the street, and remembers the night when Jordan Piper knocked on their door looking for his son.
"He didn't seem that interested or that worried," said William Daniel.
Roman's family says they were notified last night about the arrests. His biological mom, Rochelle Lopez, was glued to the press conference from her home in Michigan.
Family spokesperson Kristin Jabs-Ellenberg says police revealed the tragic details to Rochelle a year ago. She says the pain returned as Roman's story is made public.
"It's brought feelings for them of immeasurable relief but they still carry the sadness of losing Roman," she said.
The arrests bringing some closure, but also for this family, it's the beginning of their fight for answers.
"It's only the beginning of a journey, but a journey that's going to lead to Roman receiving justice he so richly deserves," she said.
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Jordan and Lindsay are facing charges of child abuse and torture. Jordan is facing an added charge of failure to provide for a child, while Lindsay is facing a charge of poisoning.
Both suspects have since been transferred into El Dorado County Jail. They are not facing charges of murder. Some of the charges in the complaints are for alleged crimes dating back to 2018 and may not be directly tied to Roman's death.
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