Officials said that they are filing murder charges against the parents of a Ventura County toddler who was last seen in 2015 after investigators found sufficient reason to believe that they were responsible for the child’s death.
The case of a 3-year-old girl, Kimberly Lopez, had been going on for some time since investigations opened in September 2016. The girl had been missing for more than a year, according to the Oxnard Police Department and Children and Family Services.
Kimberly and her parents identified as Mayra Alejandra Chavez, 26, and Omar Misael Lopez, 33, were all Oxnard residents. It was unclear if they lived at that time in the same household.
Kimberly was last seen by social workers on March 10, 2015 in the custody of her father, who was awarded guardianship of the child after completing the required classes. The mother, meanwhile, was only allowed visits with the supervision of the child’s father and grandmother Maria Lopez.
Both parents were arrested on Valentine’s Day this week but police said they had already been in custody on civil arrest warrants for failing to provide accurate information on their child’s location. Inmate records show that both were detained on October 7, 2016.
Child officials started to worry about the girl’s well-being in July 2016, more than a year after she was last seen. At that point, social workers attempted several times to check on the toddler, but the parents allegedly told them that Kimberly was living with family in Mexico. The parents still failed to provide proper documentation on the whereabouts of Kimberly despite more follow-up visits from the social workers. Ventura County Children and Family Services then reported Kimberly missing to the Oxnard police on September 7, 2016.
Officials investigated the case and they believe that Kimberly was murdered on June 22, 2015, just after she would have turned 3. While not yet specifying how exactly Kimberly was killed, investigators said they have sufficient evidence to show that Lopez and Chavez were responsible for their own child’s death.
The parents have since been charged with murder and child endangerment resulting in death. Chavez is also facing an additional charge of torture related to suspected child abuse that happened in 2013.
If convicted as charged, Chavez could face up to 47 years to life in prison, while Lopez could face a maximum sentence of 42 years to life.
Inmate records show that Chavez was being held on $6.01 million bond at Todd Road Jail in Santa Paula while Lopez was being held in the Ventura County Jail with bail set at $6 million.