LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – More than 200 people gathered at a Lakewood apartment complex to light candles in memory of a toddler who was murdered.

The vigil was held Tuesday night just outside the apartment where Donnie Ro’mello Romero, Jr. was found lifeless a week before his third birthday. Among hundreds of candles and falling tears a grieving father expressed his gratitude.

“I’m so happy to see so many kids out here tonight,” said Donnie Ro’mello Romero.

Donnie Ro'mello Romero remembers his son who shared his name at a vigil on Tuesday night (credit: CBS)

Donnie Ro’mello Romero remembers his son who shared his name at a vigil on Tuesday night (credit: CBS)

Romero’s son was found in a closed container with a cord around his neck Monday. His father says he hasn’t slept since he learned what happened.

“I want everybody tonight and after tonight to love your kid every single night. Nothing is more important. Family is what we have and somebody took that from me,” Romero said.

Police believe the toddler’s cousin, Roman Paul Isaiah Morales, 21, is to blame. Family members told CBS4 Morales is the nephew of the toddler’s mother.

Roman Paul Morales (credit: Lakewood Police)

Roman Paul Morales (credit: Lakewood Police)

“I can’t believe somebody would do that to anyone,” Romero said.

That anger and disgust echoes on social media. On Morales’ Facebook page people are leaving comments like “murderer” … “baby killer” … and “rot in hell.”

Just a couple months ago Morales shared a picture of him with his young daughter, posting about being a single parent.

Dozens gathered to remember Donnie Ro'mello Romero, Jr. a toddler who was killed (credit: CBS)

Dozens gathered to remember Donnie Ro’mello Romero, Jr. a toddler who was killed (credit: CBS)

“Only those with kids understand and know the true beauty of having children,” part of the post says.

Romero said he will hold his four other children close and encourages other parents to do the same.

Donnie Ro'mello Romero (credit: CBS)

Donnie Ro’mello Romero (credit: CBS)

“Put these candles up … in love. Love is going to set us free,”Romero said.

Morales is being held at the Jefferson County Jail. He is facing first-degree murder charges and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday morning.

Additional Resources

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family pay for Donnie Ro’mello Romero’s funeral costs.

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