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Guns in America

Parents of Colorado teen allegedly killed by ex-boyfriend say police didn't protect her

Police responded to a domestic violence complaint six days before Lily Silva-Lopez was killed. “They didn’t do much, and it’s not OK,” her mother told NBC News. 
Jovanni Sirio-Cardona allegedly murdered his ex-girlfriend Lily Silva-Lopez on June 16.
Jovanni Sirio-Cardona allegedly murdered his ex-girlfriend Lily Silva-Lopez on June 16.Alma Lopez

The parents of a 15-year-old Colorado girl allegedly murdered by her 16-year-old ex-boyfriend say that police should have arrested him after their daughter filed a domestic violence complaint accusing him of punching her in the face six days before she died, they told NBC News in exclusive interviews.

The girl, Lily Silva-Lopez, also told police that her ex-boyfriend, Jovanni Sirio-Cardona, stuck a gun in her mouth two weeks before her death and threatened to shoot her family after she tried to end their six-month relationship, according to her mother. 

Then, on June 16, he allegedly forced his way into her home and shot her multiple times, according to the district attorney’s office. 

But it’s unclear if the police in Greeley, where Lily lived, contacted Sirio-Cardona or any of his family members after the domestic dispute and before Lily’s death. Her parents, Alma Lopez and Hector Silva, believe their daughter would still be alive if the police had done more.

“They didn’t do much, and it’s not OK, and I lost my daughter because of that,” Lopez said.

“They should’ve kept an eye on him or let him know the consequences,” Silva added.

NBC News reviewed a copy of the arrest affidavit for Sirio-Cardona, which verifies police responded to the punching allegation on June 10 — six days before Lily’s killing — and thus knew about it before her death. The arrest affidavit also mentions Lopez’s claim that her daughter told police that Sirio-Cardona allegedly stuck a gun in her mouth on June 2, although the report doesn’t specify when she told officers.

The domestic violence complaint from June 10, however, has not been released due to the ongoing murder investigation, according to Sgt. Kyle Peltz of the Greeley Police Department. He also said that the department could not address detailed questions about how officers responded that day. 

Police have also told Lopez and Silva they cannot obtain the report while the investigation is ongoing, they said. 

Lopez said she and her daughter wanted to file a restraining order against Sirio-Cardona on June 10 but were told they would need his date of birth to do so, which Lopez said they didn’t have. She suspects Lily knew his birthday but did not want to further escalate the situation, she said.

“They should’ve kept an eye on him or let him know the consequences.”

Lily's father,  Hector Silva said.

Peltz said that protection orders are filed through the court, not the police department.

Terasina White, the office administrator for the Weld County D.A., said the office would not comment on the case because the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct limit what lawyers can say about an ongoing investigation.

NBC News does not normally name minors accused of crimes, but Sirio-Cardona has been charged with first- and second-degree murder as an adult, according to the district attorney. He has also been charged with first-degree burglary, aggravated robbery and possession of a handgun by a juvenile, court documents show.

Sirio-Cardona’s attorneys from the Greeley Public Defender’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.

Allegations of ‘escalating’ violence

At the time of her death, Lily had just finished her sophomore year at Northridge High School in Greeley, a city of just over 100,000 residents about 60 miles northeast of Denver. 

“She enjoyed shopping, clothes, makeup and dancing,” her obituary says, adding that she also “loved to eat” and “loved animals.”

“She was a loving and caring friend with lots of spice,” it reads.

Lopez said that Lily and Sirio-Cardona met at school and had been dating for six months and that problems “had been escalating” from the beginning of June until her daughter’s death on June 16.

On June 10, the day police responded to the domestic violence complaint, Lopez said Lily called her to say that Sirio-Cardona had “socked” her in the face. Lily added that the alleged assault occurred as she tried to end their relationship and was handing Sirio-Cardona some of his things at the front door of their home, Lopez said.

She added that her daughter told her, “Mom, it’s because I’ve been breaking up with him, and he doesn’t listen.”

“She was crying and saying, ‘I’m so over it,’” Lopez added.

A Greeley police officer arrived and took photos and Lily’s statement about what happened, according to Lopez. She said the officer asked Lily how she could prove that she had been assaulted since there were no witnesses.

“My daughter has a bruise on her face and the ones on her arms. How much more do you need?” Lopez recalled thinking.

She said the officer repeatedly asked Lily why she hadn’t reported the June 2 incident, in which Sirio-Cardona allegedly stuck a gun in her mouth and threatened to shoot her family.

“I honestly think he didn’t believe that all this happened,” said Lopez, who added that her daughter had not even told her about the June 2 incident before telling the officer on June 10.

The family gave the officer Sirio-Cardona’s full name, phone number and the school he went to, as well as other information, in hopes that the officer would track him down, according to Lopez.

The officer left the family with the case number and information about the department’s victim advocates program and promised to try to find Sirio-Cardona and to be in touch, Lopez said.

“I trusted that he was going to do something, because he gave me his word,” Lopez said. 

But the next time Lopez saw or heard from the officer was on June 16, she said, when her home had become a crime scene with her daughter’s dead body inside.

“He approached me as soon as I arrived at the scene,” Lopez said. “He said, ‘It’s bad. Where’s this Jovanni kid?’”

That officer could not immediately be reached for comment.

A grisly scene

According to the arrest affidavit reviewed by NBC News, Sirio-Cardona forced his way into Lily’s home through a bedroom window, prompting Lily to tell her 13-year-old brother to run from his bedroom. The boy fled and called 911 but the call didn’t connect, the document states.

Sirio-Cardona found Lily in the hallway outside her room and shot her several times, according to the arrest affidavit. After hearing the gunshots, Lily’s brother looked in the hallway and “saw the defendant with blood appearing to drip from the bridge of his nose” as he stood over Lily’s body holding a gun with a green “scope,” a device meant to improve aim, the document states.

Sirio-Cardona allegedly told the boy he wouldn’t shoot him but demanded he hand over his phone. The boy did so and asked Sirio-Cardona to move his sister’s body into her bedroom “as he struggled to deal with how badly she had been hurt,” the affidavit states.

Sirio-Cardona  moved the body and fled with the boy’s phone, according to the affidavit, and the boy alerted a neighbor to what had happened. Police later found Lily in a bedroom “with what appeared to be multiple gunshot wounds,” according to the arrest affidavit.

Officers arrested Sirio-Cardona the same day, at his grandmother’s house, and he was booked into the Platte Valley Youth Detention Center, according to the arrest affidavit.

The document states that when police arrived at the grandmother’s house, she asked why they were there.

“The defendant replied by saying he did what he had to do and he shot someone,” the affidavit states.

Parents plead for answers

Lopez and Silva said they are speaking out in the hope of spurring change.

“My goal is so this never happens to anybody else,” Lopez said. 

About 1 in 12 high school students experience physical or sexual dating violence, and female students experience higher rates than boys, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. LGBTQ young people also experience higher rates than heterosexual and cisgender students.

About 1 in 5 homicide victims are killed by intimate partners, and more than half of female homicide victims are killed by current or former male intimate partners, according to the CDC, citing data from U.S. crime reports.

When asked whether Greeley police officers have received any training in how to handle intimate partner violence between teens, Peltz said the department conducts monthly training sessions on how to conduct domestic violence investigations, among other topics.

He added that the department has not received a complaint from any of Lily’s family members about how police have handled the investigation.

Lopez and Silva said they did not file complaints because they were not aware it was an option or how to do so.

Protection orders were also filed on June 20, days after Lily’s murder, for Lopez and Silva as well as potential witnesses against Sirio-Cardona, court documents show. 

But for Lopez, the promise of protection has come too late.

“My daughter’s gone,” she said. “It’s pretty frustrating that I’m not getting any answers.”

Sirio-Cardona is being held on $2 million cash bond, court documents show. He is next due in court Aug. 3, for a status conference. 

The Teen Line provides peer-based support from trained teenagers who are available every evening to field calls and texts. Call 310-855-HOPE (4673), or toll-free at 800-TLC-TEEN from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, or text TEEN to 839863 from 3 and 6 p.m. ET. Teen Line also responds to emails and has a message board.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or the threat of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or go to for anonymous, confidential online chats, available in English and Spanish. Individual states often have their own domestic violence hotlines as well.

Advocates at the National Domestic Violence Hotline field calls from both survivors of domestic violence as well as individuals who are concerned that they may be abusive toward their partners.