Seven children have been removed from a Placerville home after a missing 11-year-old boy was found dead over the weekend, according to KTLA sister station KTXL in Sacramento.
The development came as police on Monday continued to investigate what happened to Roman Lopez, whose body was found on Saturday night.
He was reported missing earlier in the day, prompting a massive search near his home on Coloma Street.
Flowers, candles and condolences were later placed at a small memorial outside of the Placerville home.
Few were taking the news of what police called a suspicious death as hard as Kira Sutkay, who lives in Michigan.
“There’s just no way a child just dies, you know, unexpectedly,” Sutkay told KTXL. “The boy was healthy. My three children, they always played with him.”
She was longtime friends with the 11-year-old boy’s parents, who recently moved to California.
Sutkay’s three biological children were living with the family in the Coloma Street house, the Placerville Police Department confirmed. She told KTXL that Lopez’s parents had custody of her kids.
“We were going through tough times and she decided to reach out and offered to help,” Sutkay said.
But hearing of Lopez’s death, she said she worried for her own young children.
“That's why I feel my children are in danger,” she explained.
Police said the seven children living in the home, including Sutkay’s kids, were placed into protective custody as the investigation continued.
However, authorities would not comment on any possible suspects and repeated that the case was still considered a “suspicious death.”
Sutkay could not help but wonder who is responsible for Lopez’s death, but told the TV station she knows one thing for sure.
“I want my kids back,” she said.