By Marissa Perlman

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

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PLACERVILLE (CBS13) — For the first time, CBS13 is hearing from the heartbroken mother of an 11-year-old Placerville boy who was found dead.

She says she’s been fighting to get her son back, just as police call Roman Lopez’s death “suspicious.”

Placerville Police are handling this investigation. They are calling this death suspicious but say the community is not in danger.

Lopez was first reported missing by Placerville police Saturday evening. On Sunday, they announced his body was discovered during a search. Just how he died remains a mystery, for now. The coroner’s autopsy will include a toxicology test. It will be forwarded to the Placerville police.

“He’s always just been so sweet and so kind,” said Rochelle “Shelly” Lopez in a Facetime interview from Wisconsin on Tuesday. “I felt like Roman deserved a mom who was worthy of him.”

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Lopez said she learned about her son’s death online. She hadn’t seen him for two years because Roman’s father, who had custody, wouldn’t let her see him.

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“They told me it was Roman, and that was the last thing I was expecting to hear,” she said. “I told Roman I would do anything I can do to be with him again.”

Lopez says Roman’s father suddenly took off from his Michigan home. He took Roman, his siblings, and other children his wife is taking care of and moved to California without saying a word.

She says now she’s fighting for information about what happened, and that she has not heard from police or Roman’s father about his death. She plans to come out to California as soon as possible to get answers.

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Police aren’t releasing much about their investigation publicly. Law enforcement experts say complicated family dynamics, make this investigation more difficult.

Former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness said, “With the family, I guess it can complicate the nature of backtracking to see what took place, but it also provides a different, additional element of resources of information. So, I guess it’s a double-edged sword, it does complicate things, but at the same time, additional resources are brought to bed.”

For Lopez, as she waits for answers, she says this little boy had a big life left to live.

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“He didn’t deserve this, and I wish I could’ve been there, anyway I could have stopped it,” she said.