PLACERVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) -- Unable to speak publicly about the mysterious death of her son Roman, tears told everyone gathered on the steps of the El Dorado County courthouse what was in Rochelle Lopez's heart.
"Just let her know how terribly sorry and I can't imagine what she's going through," said Placerville resident Kim Salata.
Lopez was found dead on Jan. 11 near the home where he lived with his biological father on Coloma Street in Placerville.
A massive search was triggered when the child was reported missing from there a few hours earlier.
At just 11 years old, Lopez had recently moved to the area with his father, stepmother and seven other children, some of whom were taken in from various families. Since the discovery of his body, the other children have been placed in protective custody.
Police have remained silent about the exact cause of Lopez’s death and who they believe may be responsible.
"It was just such a tragic thing. I didn't think it should go unobserved," said Al Herron from Placerville.
While the boy's death motivated some to hold candles up in his honor, sadness over his loss has moved others to become family liaisons. Through a Facebook connection, Kristin Jabs-Ellenburg put Thursday’s vigil together and said Lopez's out-of-state loved ones are now like her second family.
"I'm really, really glad that I was able to help them and make their time here just a little easier," she told FOX40.
Police have neither identified nor arrested a suspect in the case.