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Placerville Police Chief Calls 11-Year-Old's Suspicious Death Case Toughest of Career

2/4/21 Update – Lopez's father, Jordan Piper, 36, and stepmother, Lindsey Piper, 38, were taken into custody in Calaveras County in connection with Roman's death. They both face charges of child abuse and torture.


PLACERVILLE (CBS13) — The Placerville city council held a moment of silence for 11-year-old Roman Lopez Tuesday night.

Along with the council, the Mayor and Chief of Police were at the Placerville Town Hall and spoke about how the suspicious death case has left the community heartbroken.

"We're a small community, and I think we all feel the pain," Mayor Michael Saragosa said. "These things don't happen in a place like Placerville."

Saragosa didn't know Roman or his family. They had just moved from out of state into Placerville, across the street from his own home. The mayor now passes the growing memorial at Roman's house every day.

READ ALSO: Woman Who Says She Is Roman Lopez's Mom Found Out About His Death Online

"It's a reminder every time I walk out my door, of what happened, and yes, everyone in town, it's on their mind," Saragosa said. "It's on their hearts."

Roman was first reported missing Saturday. Placerville police first announced he was found Sunday morning. Then Sunday afternoon, announced he was found dead.

Chief Jim Ortega stands by how his department delivered word of the discovery.

"Would I have done it different?" Chief Ortega said. "You know, 20-20 hindsight, I don't think so. We're trying to keep as few of the details as possible out of the public domain to protect the investigation and potential jury pool, if and when there is an arrest. And I'm not sure how that is going to go yet."

A little boy with a long future ahead of him found dead, leaving an entire community in agony. Chief Ortega too.

"So I'm also a father, and it's tough to look at the picture of that child and not think of your own kids. But we push through, as I said to someone, with adrenaline and caffeine to get the job done," Ortega said.

Chief Ortega said in all his decades in law enforcement this has been one of the toughest cases he's ever worked on.

An autopsy was performed on Roman Tuesday. The results will be turned over to the Placerville Police Department.

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