PLACERVILLE (CBS13) – It’s a story that gripped the town for months.

In 2020, police found Roman Lopez dead inside the family’s basement before arresting his father and stepmother nearly a year later.

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Jordan and Lindsay Piper originally pleaded not guilty last November.

But on Monday, Lindsey Piper changed her not guilty plea to a no-contest plea inside an El Dorado County Superior Courthouse.

The stepmother’s plea change means she faces 15 years to life for second-degree murder. A judge said she could be eligible for parole after serving that time. She still faces other charges including child abuse, poisoning and torture.

“It’s sad,” said Tim Fisher of Camino who followed the story. “Inappropriate and 15 years isn’t long enough.”

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What began as a missing person case led to a cold trail during the search.

“I can remember that night, people knocking on the door looking for the little boy,” said Cindy Terri, who lived near the Pipers’ home.

Investigators took a closer look at this home and discovered the child’s body in a bin in the family’s basement.  Police revealed roman suffered from malnourishment and dehydration at the time of his death.

The death surrounding this bright-eyed 11-year-old stunned the town as neighbors demanded justice for Roman Lopez.

“This is a good town,” said Placerville resident Kasey Dean.

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But time moved slowly during the investigation following the boy’s death in January 2020. Arrests followed more than a year later. The pair faced multiple charges including child abuse, poisoning and torture.

Shawnte Passmore