By Marissa Perlman

PLACERVILLE (CBS13) – What happened to 11-year-old Roman Lopez in Placerville is still on the minds of many across the region.

Jordan and Lindsey Piper, Roman’s father and stepmother, are awaiting their first court appearance following their arrest on Thursday.

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Roman’s story is on the minds of those still calling for justice.

“His little face in those pictures is sad,” Sheila Hollaway said.

But after a year, this week’s arrests of the Pipers are only raising more questions.

Roman was found dead, malnourished and dehydrated inside a storage bin in their basement. Prosecutors say they have good evidence to support child abuse, torture and even poisoning charges against his parents. But one thing that hasn’t been brought forward is a murder charge.

Our region has been through tragedies like this before.

Leila Fowler, 8, was found stabbed to death in her Valley Springs home in 2013. A murder charge stood in this case, her own brother Isaiah Fowler was found guilty, twice. He was charged as a minor.

Mark Reichel was his attorney and says prosecutors simply had more evidence. He maintains Fowler is innocent.

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“They didn’t believe Isaiah’s story that someone else came into the house and did the crime they didn’t think they could ever prove someone else was in there,” he said.

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In Roman’s case, there were also 7 other children at the home, complicating this investigation.

In Tracy, Sandra Cantu, 8, was found strangled to death. Her Sunday school teacher was charged with murder.

CBS13 asked Reichel what was different in that case.

“A surveillance video was discovered which linked this missing little girl to the main suspect,” he said.

Reichel says in Roman’s case, the missing link is an official cause of death, which makes it tough to prove murder without one.

“That’s what the investigators are waiting for. One thing to leak out which will hopefully break the dam and they can solve this case,” he said.

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Reichel said charging the Pipers with torture and child abuse, which the prosecutors think they can prove, buys investigators time to build a stronger case and possibly bring more severe charges.

Marissa Perlman