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California Woman Gets 15 Years In Murder Of Stepson Found Stuffed Into Storage Bin
Lindsay Piper pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in the death of her 11-year-old stepson Roman Lopez, whose emaciated body was found in a storage tub in the basement.
A California woman whose stepson was found dead in a storage bin in the basement of the family’s home has been sentenced to 15 years to life behind bars.
Lindsay Piper was handed the sentence on Friday in an El Dorado County court after pleading no contest to second-degree murder in the death of her 11-year-old stepson Roman Lopez in May, KCRA reports.
Judge Vicki Ashworth admonished Piper saying that she “didn’t deserve to be [Lopez’s] stepmother, quite frankly” and adding that she “can think of no more evil person” than the defendant, KOVR reports.
“It’s truly appalling and horrific to know what this little boy went through at the hands of Piper,” Ashworth said.
Lopez was reported missing from his Placerville home on January 11, 2020 but Placerville Police discovered his body in a storage bin in the basement of the family’s home hours after the report was filed, according to an earlier statement from the El Dorado County District Attorney.
An autopsy found no obvious trauma but Lopez was found to be severely malnourished and dehydrated. He had weighed just 42 pounds when he died; a boy his age in the 50th weight percentile would weigh 85 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Investigators say the boy was often locked in a box or closet with one hand tied in the air with a zip tie but no food.
Roman had lived at the home with the couple's seven other children, ranging in age from 1 to 17 years old, authorities said.
His biological father, Jordan Piper, and Lindsay Piper, his stepmother, were arrested in February 2021 on charges of child abuse, poisoning and torture. The murder charges were later added on as the investigation continued.
As part of the plea agreement, the remaining charges against Lindsay Piper were dismissed.
In court on Friday, two of Lindsay Piper’s biological children provided emotional statements about a home filled with rampant abuse as their stoic biological mother looked on, according to KVOR.
“I participated in this abuse,” her son, Carson — a freshman in high school who alleged that he, too, was abused by his mother — said in court. “I never found the strength to tell the truth, maybe if I would have, [Roman] would be alive.”
Carson described how his mother coached her children to lie about the abuse at home, even later taking them out of school to homeschool them to avoid unwanted questions from other caregivers.
“Lindsay spent years telling lies,” he said. “I hope you never get out.”
Her son, Brock, also spoke, choosing to address his comments directly to his mother, telling her “you sicken me,” as she averted his gaze.
“Not just Roman; seven kids you abused,” he said.
Carson and Brock’s biological father, Marcus Garvin, also addressed the court, describing how the mother of his children had been “destroying lives since I’ve known you.”
“Roman stopped you,” he said of his dead son, calling his ex an “unsightly stain on the tapestry of motherhood.”
Lopez’s paternal grandmother, Jackie Farah, described the happy memories she'd shared with Lopez before the young boy moved in with his father and stepmother.
She said she had believed Piper “would protect him like a mother would,” but added that the woman “fooled us all.”
“Evil has to be held accountable,” she said.
Lopez’s aunt, Cassandra Lennox, spoke on behalf of his biological mother, Rochelle Lopez, who died in April 2021.
Family members said she had been trying to regain custody of her son before his death. Now she lays buried next to him.
“What kind of human tortures a child?” Lennox asked in court, according to the news station.
Rochelle had spoken about her anguish over her son's death to KOVR in January 2020, well before she died.
“He didn’t deserve this,” she said at the time. “I wish I could have been there. Maybe I could’ve stopped it.”
After the sentence was handed down Friday, Assistant District Attorney Lisette Suder said she hoped it was some measure of justice for the young boy’s family.
“All of us have felt the pain of losing Roman and have mourned him for a long time,” she said. “Unfortunately, we can’t bring him back. Nobody can, but we hope today is a step forward of healing for the entire community.”
Oxygen.com reached out to the district attorney’s office but did not receive an immediate response.
The boy’s father, Jordan Piper, has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, according to The Mercury News.
Authorities announced last month that Jordan Piper was also being investigated for child pornography after investigators allegedly uncovered more than 400 nude photos of a minor girl on his phone, KCRA reports.