Details of Disappearance
Kimberly was removed from her mother's custody after birth because she tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana. She was returned to her mother, Mayra Chavez-Lopez, in February 2013 after Mayra took parenting classes and completed other programs to regain custody.
Later that year, she was removed from Mayra again after Ventura County Children and Family Services (CFS) workers found signs of abuse, including bruises and injuries all over her body in various stages of healing. A CFS worker later testified that Kimberly's mother, Mayra Chavez-Lopez, didn't have a strong bond with Kimberly and had wanted to leave her in the hospital after she was born because she already had a child and didn't think she could care for a new baby. According to witnesses, Mayra detested Kimberly and favored her older daughter.
Eventually Kimberly was placed in the care of her father, Omar Lopez. Mayra was allowed to visit her; the visits were supposed to be supervised by her mother and Omar. The situation wouldn't have been permitted by CFS if Mayra and Omar were living together, so the couple lied to social workers and claimed they had separated. Photos of Omar and Mayra are posted with this case summary.
The last time a CFS social worker saw Kimberly was on March 10, 2015. Kimberly was later at Omar's home on Denver Place in Oxnard, California in the summer of 2015.
More than a year later, someone called CFS and said they were concerned about Kimberly, and asked them to check on her. CFS workers attempted to do so several times, but Omar and Mayra told them she was staying with Omar's parents in Mexico. They didn't have any documentation or other evidence to support their story, however.
When authorities located Omar's mother, she said she had only ever met Kimberly four times, the last time in January 2015. Mayra then claimed that Kimberly was in Mexico with a family friend, but she had no contact information for this person. When police located him, he said didn't have her and had no idea where she was.
In September 2016, social workers filed a missing persons report. On October 7, 2016, both of Kimberly's parents were both jailed for civil contempt of court for their non-cooperation with the investigation. In August 2017, they were both charged with felony perjury.
Authorities initially stated that they were simply trying to verify Kimberly's well-being and thought she might still be in California, or she may be in Mexico, specifically Tijuana, Los Reyes, Michoacan or Guadalajara. However, in February 2018, her parents were charged with second-degree murder in her case. Mayra was initially charged with assault and torture; the torture charge referred to incidents that took place in 2013.
Police believe Kimberly died on June 22, 2015, just a few days after her third birthday. Omar made a statement to them in August 2017 and said that on June 21, the child fell on the floor and hit her head while her mother was changing her pants.
According to Omar, Kimberly didn't cry or complain after the injury, but she subsequently had two seizures, the first one about 30 to 45 minutes after she hit her head. The second seizure made her body feel "like jelly." Her parents didn't seek medical attention, and she died that same night; Omar tried to revive her with CPR but her body was in rigor mortis by then. This was in the early hours of June 22.
Her parents took her body to Tijuana, dug a shallow grave on a small hill with their bare hands, and buried her body there, wrapped in a blue plastic bag. After dumping it, Omar and Mayra out drinking at a couple of bars. Later, in July 2015, they exhumed Kimberly's body and attempted to dissolve her remains with bleach, pouring the smaller pieces down a shower drain. They then scattered the larger bones in three different places.
In April 2018, Omar pleaded guilty to felony perjury and a lesser charge of felony child endangerment. He agreed to testify against Mayra at her upcoming trial. In July, Mayra's mother, Maria De Jesus Lopez, was charged with conspiracy to destroy and conceal evidence in Kimberly's death. Authorities believe she lent Omar and Mayra her own vehicle and some money so they could make the trip to Tijuana, knowing that Kimberly was dead.
Omar testified against Mayra at her trial in December 2018. He stated Mayra began abusing heroin prior to Kimberly's death and regularly abused the child, "punishing" her with slaps, cold showers, and time-outs that lasted hours. Omar said he didn't try to stop Mayra from hurting Kimberly because he was afraid of CFS stepping in. Mayra's defense argued she and Omar were responsible for Kimberly's death, but pointing to her depression and drug addiction and suggested her actions were involuntary manslaughter rather than murder.
Mayra was convicted of second-degree murder, felony assault on a child causing death, and torture. She faces 32 to 47 years to life in prison. Omar will be sentenced to fourteen years in prison as per the terms of his plea agreement. He has also agreed to testify against Mayra's mother, who is still awaiting trial for her role in covering up Kimberly's murder.
Kimberly's remains have never been found.