Update: This is one of the saddest photos we've seen in a long, long time.
The image above captures the superhero-themed casket in which two-year-old Donnie Ro'Mello Romero Jr. will be laid to rest Friday morning during a ceremony at Mother Cabrini's Shrine.
Organizers of the service are looking for ten volunteers to help with what's expected to be a substantial crowd. The release about the event is below, followed by our previous coverage.
Volunteers needed for superhero funeral services for 2 year old Donny Ro’Mello Jr., Golden, CO
In need of 10 volunteers to assist with parking on day of services 10/2/15
Two year old Donnie Ro’Mello Jr. of Lakewood, CO tragically passed away on Sept. 21, 2015 just days short of his third birthday. Family and friends of sweet little Donnie are in need of volunteers to assist with parking on the day of services from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.. If you and or someone you know would like to help volunteer on the day of please contact the Mother Cabrini Shrine. The family has encouraged those who would like to send flowers and or wreaths to please do so and send and or deliver them to the Mother Cabrini Shrine for services on Friday, Oct. 2nd. A gofundme account has been set up for donations for Donny’s memorial and can be found here. You may also go to any US BANK and give a financial donation as well, (Titled Baby Ro' Mello Funeral Fund.)
The Mother Cabrini Shrine is located at 20189 Cabrini Boulevard in Golden. The phone number is 303-526-0758. Continue for our previous coverage.
Update, 11 a.m. September 29: We've been keeping you informed about developments following the death of Donnie Ro'Mello Romero Jr., whose cousin, Roman Morales, has been arrested on suspicion of murder; see our previous coverage below.
The latest: Services for the boy, a fan of superheroes who died just shy of his third birthday, have been scheduled for 10:45 a.m. on Friday, October 2, at Mother Cabrini Shrine, 20189 Cabrini Boulevard in Golden. (For directions, phone 303-526-0758.)
Attendees are encouraged to "bring your 'super guy' blankets...to sit on" during the mass in order to "send this 'super guy' home."
In addition, Donnie Ro'Mello Romero Sr., has shared a note featuring birthday wishes for his namesake.
To my son,
Happy heavenly 3rd birthday, my mini me. The 28th of September will always be remembered, celebrated & cherished. I will move forward hungry with a waking urgency to accomplish & complete. Your magnetic persona was inescapable. Your love was unconditional, your daily dedication to happiness was motivational. No matter what u went through, u had a smile on that cute lil’ face. I will embrace your memory forever.
P.S. My Em’zz Little’zz
Continue for information about GoFundMe pages and more in our previous coverage.
Update, 5:47 a.m. September 25: We've been following the tragic story of Donnie Ro'Mello Romero Jr., who was killed in the days leading up to his third birthday, allegedly by Roman Morales; see our previous coverage below.
Morales is the nephew of Tiffany Segura, mother of Donnie Jr., who was in an acrimonious custody dispute with the boy's father, Donnie Ro'Mello Romero Sr., prior to the tragedy.
There's been plenty of nastiness directed at Segura via social media. But now, in an interview with Fox31 on view below, she's come forward to stress that "the only thing I want through all this is justice for my son."
In the meantime, at least two GoFundMe pages — and perhaps more — have been launched to raise money for the funeral of Donnie Jr., which is expected to feature a superhero casket to honor the boy's love for costumed characters.
In recent days, Donnie Sr. has been posting tributes to Donnie Jr. on his Facebook page, including this video, which shows off his love of music and dancing abilities.
Me mini me doin da Ro’ Stole#LoveMyBaby#AFathersLoveNeverDies mini me doin da Ro’ Stole#LoveMyBaby#AFathersLoveNeverDiesMPosted by Ro' Mello Romero on Friday, September 25, 2015
Meanwhile, Segura's aunt, Jeanette Galindo, stresses to Fox31 that her niece has cooperated fully with authorities. “She did nothing to deserve any of this," Galindo says. "She opened her life up to be prodded by any authority figure that wanted."
This admonition against gossip and rumor is reinforced by the introduction to the GoFundMe burial fund set up by Segura's supporters. The passage reads:
At this time our family has suffered a great loss . We would like to thank you all for your kind words.
We ask openly and sincerely that you continue to pray. Our family is one of great faith and your prayers give us comfort.
We also ask that you please understand that until you hear from us, anything that you read or hear on Facebook is purely conjecture. I will share facts with our loved ones when there are facts to share.
The ONLY fact right now is that our beloved Donnie is not with us any more but is in the hands of our God.
Thank you again.
Meanwhile, a second GoFundMe page was created by Donnie L. Sanchez, a good friend of Donnie Sr. A note at the top of the page states:
Your continued love and support is greatly appreciated, a big thank you to all those who attended the vigil, your support was great and much needed, love heals, Thank you. The family wants to extend their love and appreciation, they're overwhelmed by all the love, we can't say thank you enough, please share and help us reach our goal to give baby Romello this superhero send off, thank you.
A friend of Sanchez's adds details about the superhero theme in a post on the Segura-backed page:
Ok guys i just got off the phone with Donnie Sanchez (Donnys lifelong friend) rest assured that 100% of the funds raised are already being spent on expenses. Donnie L. Sanchez has verified their pages. THE CUSTOM SUPERHERO casket is paid for in full and already in transit to Denver from Texas. The guys (Donny Ro'mello, Donnie S. and Mike L.) are in the process of contacting Tiffany S. They have been handling most the arrangements to lessen the burden on her. They ask me to ask all you here to please refrain from negativity and bashing and let the parents grieve and try to work together. THANK YOU ALL AND GOD BLESS both Families!!
The emphasis on putting past differences aside is the theme of another post on the page, which reads, "This is getting ridiculous, the family needs to communicate right now, it looks like ppl r trying to take advantage of the situation!! This is the 3rd go fund me."
We have been unable to find a third GoFundMe page at this writing. As of now, just over $700 has been pledged on the Segura page, $4,500-plus on the one created by friends of Donnie Sr. Click here and here for more information.
In the meantime, Segura clearly remains in shock. In her words, "I can't believe my baby's not with me right now."
Look below to see the Fox31 report, followed by our previous coverage.
Update, 6:31 a.m. September 23: We've got more information about the arrest of 21-year-old Roman Morales in the death of Donnie Ro'Mello Romero Jr., who would have celebrated his third birthday later this month; see our previous coverage below.
Morales, who was initially described as a friend of Donnie Jr.'s mother, is reportedly the boy's cousin on the side of his mother, Tiffany Segura.
Moreover, the child's distraught father, Donnie Ro'Mello Romero Sr., maintains that an unnamed relative of Segura had been sexually abusing the boy — one of many charges to arise from what was clearly a bitter custody dispute.
In announcing Morales's arrest, the Lakewood Police Department revealed that prior to the arrival of officers, he had been at the South Sheridan apartment where the boy's body was found. However, he split on a bicycle shortly before LPD personnel began searching the area for the toddler, who'd been reported missing.
Not long thereafter, the LPD tracked down Morales, who was taken in for questioning. Several hours later, he was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder. He's expected to make his initial court appearance later today.
Additional information is provided by 9News, which cites court records divulging that Segura and Donnie Sr. dated for five years before their relationship deteriorated into acrimony. Segura is said to have accused Donnie Sr. of "controlling behavior and sexual assault" and "filed multiple complaints and requests for a protection order." The cases were ultimately dismissed, the station maintains.
Then, last month, Donnie Sr. made a complaint of his own, requesting a protection order for Segura and a family member who allegedly was "using drugs and sexually abusing the toddler," 9News allows.
This case was dismissed as well — and Donnie Sr. feels the result was a tragedy.
"They wrapped a cord around my son's neck," he told the station. "Put him in a tote, put a blanket over it and then closed it with the lid. We have no explanation why anything happened."
In the meantime, Segura's side of the family released the following statement:
Our family would like to thank those who have shared their kind words and prayers. As we mourn the loss of baby Donnie we ask openly and sincerely that you continue to pray. We also ask for you to please understand that until you hear from us, anything you may see or read on social media is pure conjecture. We will share facts with our loved ones when there are facts to be shared. The only fact right now is that our beloved Donnie is not with us anymore, but is with the Lord.
A vigil was held last night to remember Donnie Jr. We send our best thoughts to the mourners.
Below, see Roman Morales's booking photo, followed by a 7News clip about the vigil and our previous coverage..
Update, 8:39 a.m. September 22: Earlier this morning, we shared reports that an unidentified person had been taken into custody related to the death yesterday of two-year-old Donnie Ro'Mello Romero Jr.; see our previous coverage below.
Now, Lakewood Police Department representatives have confirmed that an arrest has been made.
The person taken into custody: Roman Morales, 21, who's described as a friend of the toddler's mother, Tiffany Segura.
He's being held on suspicion of first-degree murder.
Morales is a Facebook friend of Segura's, and while the photo at the top of this post features a child who strongly resembles Donnie Ro'Mello Romero Jr., a number of other pics in his gallery and on his timeline feature him with a young girl that appears to be his child.
As noted below, Segura and Donnie Jr.'s father, Donnie Ro'Mello Romero, were in a custody dispute that had spawned a hearing scheduled for today. Donnie Sr. wasn't present at the time the child disappeared, and Morales is said to have spent a lot of time around Segura's apartment.
Lakewood Police Department spokesman Steve Davis tells 7News that investigators made contact with Morales yesterday and determined that his story "didn't match up."
A booking photo for Morales has not yet been released — but angry and accusatory posts have started popping up on his Facebook page.
Continue for our previous coverage.
Original post, 6:53 a.m.: Yesterday, two-year-old Donnie Ro'Mello Romero Jr. died. That much we know — and it's incredibly tragic.
At this hour, it's unclear whether a crime has taken place, or if young Donnie lost his life as a result of a horrible accident.
But a report reveals that the child was at the center of a custody battle between his father, Donnie Ro'Mello Romero Sr., and his mother, Tiffany Segura, with a hearing date scheduled for today.
Moreover, family members maintain that an unidentified person was taken into custody regarding the terrible incident — an assertion thus far unconfirmed by police.
To date, the Lakewood Police Department has only shared the basics about what took place.
Shortly before noon on Monday, September 21, according to the LPD, officers responded to an apartment on the 2500 block of South Sheridan Boulevard.
The report: a missing two-year-old boy.
The child had only been gone for about ten minutes when the call went out.
At the scene, officers and family members began searching inside and outside the apartment — and before long, they found the boy.
The LPD describes him simply as "injured" and "unconscious." But 7News reports that he had "something" wrapped around his neck, with Fox31 describing it as a cord and adding that he was located in or on top of a "tote."
The boy was raced to a nearby hospital, where he was declared dead just shy of 2 p.m.
Meanwhile, LPD personnel secured the area, which was being treated as a crime scene, and requested a search warrant.
No arrests have been reported in the case — but Donnie Ro'Mello Romero Sr. spoke with Fox31 and provided background about what the broadcaster characterizes as a "fierce custody battle" that had spawned a hearing scheduled for today.
Romero Sr. wasn't present at the time of the incident. Segura is said to have been living at the apartment with Donnie Jr. and an aunt.
Members from both sides of the family told Fox31 that someone had been taken into custody in the case, but for now, the LPD isn't talking about that.
Whatever happens next, the death of Donnie Ro'Mello Romero Jr. is undeniably heartbreaking. Our condolences to his loved ones.