Family and friends remembered 5-year-old Aramazd Andressian Jr. at a funeral service Tuesday, weeks after his remains were found near Lake Cachuma following an extensive search across Southern California.
The chief of the South Pasadena Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell were expected to attend the 5 p.m. Tuesday service at a South Pasadena church. The boy's family told NBC4 a public service was slated for Wednesday.
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Andressian Jr.'s remains were found June 30 near Lake Cachuma Recreation Area in Santa Barbara County, months after he first went missing in April, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. His 35-year-old father, Aramazd Andressian Sr., is charged with murder in his death.
Andressian Sr. pleaded not guilty to the charge at a hearing on July 3. He was arrested in Las Vegas on June 23 and returned to Southern California — on the same day his son's remains were found — when he was extradited to face the murder charge, sheriff's officials said. He could face up to 25 years to life in state prison if convicted.
Attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez said he met with Andressian Sr. on July 1.
"To say it's a difficult time for him is an understatement, attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez said last month. "To be in custody, to be accused of something like this, is something that would break anyone.
"There has been a rush to judgment."
Investigators said Andressian Sr. spent nearly 50 days in Las Vegas as authorities searched Lake Cachuma, parts of the Santa Ynez Mountains northwest of Los Angeles and other areas in Southern California for his son.
Aramazd Andressian Jr. was last seen on the evening of April 20 at Disneyland in the custody of his father, who was found unconscious at Arroyo Seco Park two days later and was unable to account for his son's whereabouts.
Sheriff's homicide Lt. Joe Mendoza alleged the killing was "pre- planned" and took place between the time Andressian and his son left Disneyland and when the father was discovered unconscious at the South Pasadena park on April 22. Andressian told investigators he arrived at the park with his son and waited for the golf course to open, and admitted ingesting prescription medication that was not prescribed to him, Mendoza said.
The father said he did not remember what happened to his child or any details that were useful in locating the boy, according to Mendoza, who said a prescription bottle was found inside Andressian's vehicle, which was doused with gasoline inside and out.
Andressian was in the middle of a divorce and custody battle with the boy's mother who investigators have said is not a suspect in the child's disappearance.
According to a sheriff's department statement, detectives examined evidence indicating that in addition to spending April 21 visiting the Lake Cachuma Recreation Area, the father traveled around the area near Solvang and Nojoqui Falls.
The boy's mother contacted police at 9 a.m. April 22 to report her son missing. She said her estranged husband had failed to drop off the child at a pre-arranged meeting place.