VENTURA COUNTY

Woman Pleads Not Guilty to Charges Related to Granddaughter's Disappearance

Detectives believe the child was exposed to a situation that led to the child's death

What to Know

  • The grandmother of missing 3-year-old faces charges of conspiracy
  • The child's father has pleaded guilty to child endangerment and perjury
  • The child's mother is awaiting trial

An Oxnard 44-year-old woman pleaded not guilty Wednesday afternoon to charges related to the disappearance of her 3-year-old granddaughter who authorities believe is dead.

María De Jesús López appeared briefly in a Ventura courtroom dressed in a jail jumpsuit behind a cage and answered, "yes," when the judge asked her if she understood the charges against her.

She faces conspiracy charges in the disappearance of Kimberly Lopez who's presumed dead. Investigators have not found a body, police said.

López was arrested Monday, police said. The suspect is believed to have known about the girl's whereabouts and helped cover up the crime, officials said.

The case began after a social worker reported the girl missing to police in September 2016.

Kimberly was last seen by a social worker when she was in the custody of her father, Omar López. The father had legal custody of the child, authorities said. Kimberly's mother, Mayra Chávez, had home visits with the girl, supervised by the father and grandmother, officials said.

Oxnard Police Sgt. Scott Aaron said that the girl's father, Omar Misael Lopez, has admitted that his daughter was dead.

Chávez and Omar Lopez were arrested for failing to tell investigators where their daughter was. They were charged with murder in February, said Ventura County Senior District Attorney John Barrick.

Omar pleaded guilty to one count of felony child endangerment and one count of perjury in exchange for testifying against the mother, according to a news release by Ventura County District Attorney Office.

The case against the mother is pending.

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