The mother of a South Pasadena boy who has been missing for nearly a month made a tearful plea for her 5-year-old son's return, saying she believes he is alive and wants to come home.
Aramazd Andressian Jr. was reported missing on April 22. On Wednesday, a day after a reward to find the child was doubled to $20,000, his mother Ana Estevez spoke in front of TV news cameras at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles.
"My son's disappearance is my worst nightmare," Estevez said as she held back tears. "It has been 32 days, almost three hours, since I last hugged my son, kissed him or told him how much I love him. There are no words how devastated and heartbroken I am. Although I do not know his whereabouts I do believe he is alive, missing his family and desperately wants to come home."
Her emotional plea came as detectives released new details in the investigation surrounding the boy's father, who was caring for the child at the time of the boy's disappearance.
Aramazd Andressian Sr. allegedly told investigators had taken medication that was not prescribed to him on April 22, the day he and his son went to Arroyo Seco Park in South Pasadena before a custody exchange, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Joe Mendoza.
The father and son arrived waiting for the golf course to open, Mendoza said. Andressian Sr. was later discovered unconscious at the park and the boy was nowhere to be found.
The last confirmed sighting of the boy was April 20, the night the father and two family members took the child Disneyland, sheriff's investigators said.
Estevez said she's received an outpouring of support during the frantic search.
"To my son, papa, this message is for you my love. Be brave, honey. Know that mama and a lot of people are working hard to bring you home," Estevez said.
"Don't ever forget that mama loves you to the moon and the stars," she added. "I'm counting the days until I see you again honey, and I will never stop looking for you."
The search for the boy has spanned several Southern California counties, including Santa Barbara, where authorities searched last Tuesday in the Lake Cachuma Recreation Area where the boy may have been with his father on April 21.
Investigators were unable to verify that the boy had been seen at the lake by witnesses.
After being found unconscious at the park, Andressian Sr. was arrested April 22 and released from jail three days later. He was initially held in lieu of $10 million bail.
A prescription bottle was found inside his vehicle, Mendoza said.
"There was gasoline in the interior and doused all over the exterior. There (were) matches in there and there was a gas container," Mendoza said, noting that a rag that had been doused with gasoline was found in the area near the vehicle's gas cap. "As to how those items play into what occurred, he has not been cooperative, so we do not know."
On April 28, the day a search warrant was served at his South Pasadena home, Andressian released a statement through his attorney about his son's disappearance.
"In one moment, I was at the park with my son, and then I found myself waking up in Huntington Memorial Hospital hours later. I was told that a good Samaritan found me unconscious on the ground near my car, with young Aramazd nowhere in sight. I can only speculate that I must have been attacked in the park, given my unresponsive state and subsequent physical condition," the statement said.
"My family and I are heartbroken and grief-stricken that Aramazd Jr. is missing and may be in harm's way. I am pleading with the public to come forward with any knowledge of Aramazd Jr.'s whereabouts or information regarding the circumstances leading up to his disappearance."
When Andressian was released from custody, the sheriff's department said it had decided "not to present the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office for filing consideration at this time. The matter remains under investigation."
Sheriff's Capt. Chris Bergner said the weekend the child disappeared that his father's statements had "been convoluted and not consistent."
Mendoza said Andressian's statements were "inconsistent and misleading" and he had not offered any additional information.
The boy's mother contacted police at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 22 to report her son missing. She said her estranged husband, with whom she shares custody of their son, had failed to drop off the child at a pre-arranged meeting place.
Andressian Jr. was last seen by his mother on April 18 on a Skype video call from an unknown location, South Pasadena police said.
The child is 4 feet 1 inches tall and 55 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a plaid shirt and plaid shorts and has a small mole on the bottom of his right shoulder.
Anyone with information about the boy's whereabouts was urged to call South Pasadena police at 626-403-729 or sheriff's detectives at 323-890-5500.
City News Service contributed to this report.