KEY POINTS

  • Roman Anthony Lopez, 11, was reported missing Saturday morning after he reportedly disappeared from his home in Placerville, California
  • Police discovered his body hours later by a house near his home
  • His death was classified as "suspicious" and police are asking anyone with information to contact investigators

Police in Placerville, California, continue to investigate the events surrounding the disappearance of an 11-year-old boy who was later found dead Saturday, hours after he was reported missing from his home. The Placerville Police Department released a statement that the boy's death is considered “suspicious.”

The body of Roman Anthony Lopez was found Saturday afternoon after an extensive search near his home in Placerville, a quiet foothills community of about 10,000 people located 45 miles east of Sacramento. Placerville police were aided in the search by the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office and the local District Attorney’s Office.

The boy's body was discovered near another home. Investigators later tapped off the area along with two pickup trucks that were parked nearby. Police have neither released information as to where the body was found nor the cause of death. No suspects or people of interest have been identified.

“This event is very tragic for all involved and we appreciate your patience while we conduct a thorough investigation,” police said in the release.

Placerville Police Sgt. John Meuser spoke about the investigation further in a press conference Sunday, urging anyone with information about the disappearance or death of Roman to contact authorities.

Roman's family had reportedly moved into the area in December from Michigan and had seven other children living with them. Three were identified as the children of family friend Kira Sutkay.

The seven children were taken into protective custody while police investigate Roman's death.

"There’s just no way a child just dies, you know, unexpectedly," Sutkay told reporters. "The boy was healthy. My three children, they always played with him."

Sutkay said she had given custody of her children to Roman's parents before they moved to California. However, she said Monday she wants her kids back.

Neighbors spoke to reporters, describing the intensive search efforts by local law enforcement.

"It’s so sad," Jordyn Gilmore, who lives next door to Roman's family, told NBC-affiliate KCRA. "Who would’ve thought your next-door neighbor? Things happen and it’s just crazy."

“The Placerville police came by and I helped them get access to the property behind us and we searched all the trailers and stuff out back there that could be attractive for an 11-year-old boy to hide up in,” a neighbor told Sacramento Fox-affiliate KTXL.