Funeral, public memorial remembers 5-year-old Ara Andressian

- A public memorial was held Wednesday night at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia for slain 5-year-old Aramazd "Piqui'' Andressian Jr., whose father has been charged with his murder.

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The child's mother said at his funeral Tuesday in South Pasadena that she will live with an "eternal shadow of destruction and emptiness'' as she faces life without him.

The boy's mother, Ana Estevez, shared with mourners at Holy Family Catholic Church a letter she wrote to her lost son.

"My dearest Piqui, at no time did I ever imagine having to write such a letter, nor did the thought of life without you ever enter my mind,'' she said.

"Although I find myself living with an eternal shadow of devastation and emptiness because I don't have you here with me, I want the world to see what an amazing child you were, through my eyes, and to see you as the gift that God blessed me with for five years, two months and two days.''

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Aramazd Andressian Sr., 35, of South Pasadena, is accused of killing the boy amid a bitter custody battle with the child's mother. He's in custody in lieu of $10 million bail.

Andressian's son was last seen alive at 1 a.m. April 21 leaving Disneyland with his father, who was found unconscious at Arroyo Seco Park in South Pasadena the next day and was unable to account for the child's whereabouts.

The elder Andressian told investigators he arrived at the park with his son and waited for a nearby golf course to open, and admitted ingesting prescription medication that was not prescribed to him, according to Lt. Joe Mendoza of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Homicide Bureau.

The man said he did not remember what happened to his child, according to Mendoza, who said a prescription bottle was found inside his car, which was doused with gasoline inside and out.

The elder Andressian was arrested but released for lack of evidence. He was arrested again on June 23 in Las Vegas, waived extradition and was returned to Los Angeles County on June 30 to face the murder charge. The boy's body was found that same day near the Lake Cachuma Recreation Area in Santa Barbara County, in an area that had been searched before.

According to Mendoza, the killing was ``pre-planned'' and took place between the time Andressian and his son left Disneyland and the father was discovered at the South Pasadena park.

The boy's mother called authorities when the father failed to return him as planned.

Mendoza alleged that the elder Andressian planned the murder to get back at his estranged wife during a "tumultuous'' divorce and then tried to commit suicide -- before heading to Las Vegas to prepare to flee the country.

The elder Andressian has pleaded not guilty to murdering his son and remains jailed in lieu of $10 million bail, pending his next court appearance Aug. 16, when a date will be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial. He could face up to 25 years to life in state prison if convicted.

Related: 'I miss him more than words can describe': Mother of missing 5-year-old boy speaks to FOX 11

The search for the boy spanned several Southern California counties. Authorities focused on the Lake Cachuma area because Andressian Sr. told them he took the boy there the day after the Disneyland trip.

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