Acquaintance of mother in custody after death of 2-year-old in Lakewood

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- The Lakewood Police Department confirmed Tuesday morning that a suspect is in custody after a 2-year-old boy died after being found with a cord around his neck inside a Lakewood apartment.

(Photo: Larimer County Sheriff's Office)

(Photo: Larimer County Sheriff's Office)

Family members told FOX31 Denver on Monday night that a suspect was in custody. On Tuesday, police said Roman Paul Morales, 21, had been arrested. The boy's mother was staying with relatives in the Green Gables apartment complex in the 2500 block of South Sheridan Boulevard.

Police said Morales is an acquaintance of the mother and not a total stranger to the boy. He is due in court Wednesday.

Donnie Ro’ Mello Romero Sr. said his son was the music legend no one will ever get to know.

“Baby Ro’ Mello is an incredible spirit and talent that we’ll never know," he said.

Complicating the police investigation , the father said he was in a fierce custody battle for his son. A court hearing was scheduled for Tuesday.

“My cousin Tiffany wouldn’t have harmed her child. She had too much love for her child,” said Isaac Aargon, a cousin.

“I tried to let people know he needed to be with his dad, but no one would listen,” Romero said.

Baby DonnyResidents said neighbors started knocking on doors Monday morning asking if anyone had seen 2-year-old Donny.

Just before noon Monday, Lakewood police received a call about the missing boy. The caller reported the toddler had been missing for about 10 minutes, police said.

Police arrived and searched the apartment. A few minutes later, the 2-year-old was found inside the apartment injured and unconscious, with a cord wrapped around his neck.

Police spokesman Steve Davis said the child was in or on top of some sort of "tote.” The child was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly before 2 p.m.

Neighbor Rachel White called the incident "terrible and heartbreaking." Authorities do not believe there is any danger to the community.

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