The stepmother of 11-year-old Roman Lopez, who was found dead in the basement of his Placerville home in 2020, changed her plea to no contest to murder charges Monday, the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office said.
Lindsay Piper and her husband, Jordan Piper, Lopez’s father, were arrested on suspicion of the boy’s death in February 2021. The couple had been living in a rental home in downtown Placerville with seven other children in their custody when Lopez was found dead in January 2020.
According to prosecutors, “investigators located Roman deceased inside a storage bin in the basement” of the Pipers’ home after an extensive search the day he was reported missing.
After being arrested at a Calaveras County motel, the couple was arraigned for charges including child abuse likely to cause great bodily injury or death and causing cruel and extreme pain for revenge, extortion or sadistic purpose, according to a criminal complaint filed in El Dorado Superior Court.
Jordan Piper was charged with an additional count of willfully failing to provide food, clothing, shelter and medical attention to the boy.
Lindsay Piper was charged with a separate count of willfully having “mingled a poison and harmful substance with food, drink, medicine, and pharmaceutical product and placed a poison and harmful substance in a spring, well, reservoir and public water supply” knowing it could cause injury.
After authorities interviewed the other children living in the Piper home, a second-degree murder charge was added to both defendants, according to prosecutors.
The Pipers in an interview with The Sacramento Bee days after Roman’s death said they awoke to find the boy gone on a Saturday morning, “frantically” searched for him but did not find him.
After 15 hours of an extensive search involving police and dozens of Jordan Piper’s co-workers, the couple said, police informed them that their son had been found dead.
“Although an autopsy revealed no obvious trauma, Roman was found to be severely malnourished and dehydrated at the time of his death,” the department said at the time.
Lindsay Piper is scheduled to be sentenced July 8 and faces a sentence of 15 years to life; Jordan Piper is expected to return to court May 24.