OXNARD, Calif. - The parents of missing 3-year-old Kimberly Lopez were arrested and charged with her murder on Feb. 14 after nearly a year and a half long investigation.
The Ventura County District Attorney's Office filed second-degree murder charges against 26-year-old Mayra Alejandra Chavez and 33-year-old Omar Misael Lopez. Both individuals are from the city of Oxnard.
Authorities say Chavez and Lopez killed their daughter in June 2015, however, the investigation did not begin until September 2016 when Ventura County Children and Family Services notified the Oxnard Police Department that the toddler was missing.
VCCFS social workers had received information concerning the well-being of Kimberly in July 2016 and made several home visits in an attempt to check on Kimberly but say Chavez and Lopez provided them with unverified information that Kimberly was living with relatives in Mexico.
Eventually, after several visits from social workers, the toddler's parents were unable to provide proof that Kimberly was in Mexico and police was notified.
During the course of the investigation, detectives gathered enough information to believe 3-year-old Kimberly was dead and that Chavez and Lopez were responsible for her death, according to the Oxnard Police Department.
Authorities say the parents placed Kimberly in a situation that resulted in her death while in the care and custody of both parents, but they did not go as far as to specify what situation detectives believe Kimberly was placed in.
Eventually, police took both Chavez and Lopez into custody on civil arrest warrants for failing to provide accurate information on the whereabouts of Kimberly.
At the time of the investigation, Lopez had guardianship of the toddler after he completed the required classes to become the child's guardian. Chavez was granted supervised home visits.
In addition to second-degree murder charges, Chavez is charged with assault resulting in the death of a child and torture. Lopez is also charged with willful harm or injury to a child.
Both parents are in custody at the Ventura County Jail in lieu of bail that has initially been set at $5,000,000 each. If convicted, Chavez faces a maximum of 47 years to life in prison. Lopez faces a maximum of 42 years to life in prison.
Chavez and Lopez will be arraigned on Feb. 15.