Lopez’s stepmother, Lindsay Piper, reported Lopez missing on Jan. 11, 2020. According to the district attorney’s office, there were seven additional children in the family home ranging in age from 1 to 17 years old, and they had recently moved to Placerville.
That same day, officials found the boy’s body in a storage bin in the basement of the home after a city-wide search. Prosecutors said Lopez had "no obvious trauma," but he was "grossly malnourished and dehydrated."
An autopsy showed the child weighed around 42 pounds at the time of his death even though just two years earlier, he weighed approximately 61 pounds. Further investigation revealed Lopez had not seen a doctor since he was 9 years old, according to the district attorney’s office.
Leading up to his death, Lopez suffered physical abuse for years and had been "restrained by being tied and zip-tied to his bed at night."
The district attorney’s office said friends and family members made impact statements during the sentencing hearing, including a friend of Lopez’s biological mother, who died in 2021.
Lopez’s maternal grandparents reportedly addressed Piper, stating, "Now you get to rot in your cell knowing that you killed your only son."
Deputy District Attorney Jay Linden said it was "one of the most emotional sentencing hearings of his 26-year career."
The boy’s stepmother, Lindsay Piper, was convicted of Lopez’s second-degree murder in July and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said, "Justice has been served for Roman. Both his father and stepmother are now being held accountable for their incomprehensible cruelty, abuse, and death of their child and will spend a very long time behind bars."