Ana Estevez stood at the pulpit of Holy Family Church Tuesday evening, her mother and South Pasadena Chief of Police Art Miller beside her for support.
Her son Aramazd Andressian Jr., affectionately known as “Piqui,” lay at the foot of the steps in front of her in a small, white coffin adorned with flowers. The body of the five-year-old was found on June 30 near Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara County. The boy’s father, Aramazd Andressian Sr., is now in custody facing murder charges.
Instead of speaking about her son, Estevez spoke to him.
“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.”
Around 700 hundred or so people attended the service, which was also live streamed on Channel 11 as well as to Estevez’s family in Pennsylvania. The ceremony was led by Monsignor Clement Connolly, the spiritual director at Holy Family. “My words should be measured,” said Connolly. “They should be brief so as not to impede on the grief. Too many words may lead us to seek an answer to a tragedy that has no reason to it. Now is a time to weep.”
After escorting Estevez back to her pew following her eulogy, Miller delivered his own. He shared some of Estevez’s memories of Piqui and recited a poem, author unknown, entitled “Young Life Cut Short.”
“’When something has enriched your life/ And when its melody lingers on in your heart/ Is it unfinished?/ Or is it endless?,’” said Miller. “Today, it’s difficult to even begin to talk of ‘comfort,’” he continued, “but in the months and years ahead, as we remember little Piqui, I hope we gain strength from realizing, as we look back on his life, just how much of an effect he had on us in the short time he was with us.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell delivered remarks directly following Miller’s comments.
“There is nothing more heartbreaking than the death of a child,” said McDonnell. “Most of us are parents as well, but can only imagine the pain endured by you and your family. The more time that passed in this case, more and more people in the law enforcement community and in the greater community became increasingly anxious, frustrated and ultimately angry. Aramazd became part of our family, too. He was the picture of innocence, he was our child.”
McDonnell spoke about the “special breed” of person who becomes a homicide detective. Louie Aguilera, the lead homicide detective on the case, was so invested in solving it that he missed his daughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner because key information was to be released the next morning.
“There were moments when it might have appeared to the public and the media that there was nothing more we could do,” said McDonnell. “That was certainly not the case. We never lost hope.”
Andressian Jr. initially went missing on April 22, after being in the custody of his father, Aramazd Andressian Sr. The father had taken Piqui to Disneyland, and was supposed to return him that day to Estevez, from whom he is estranged.
Andressian Sr. was found unconscious in his car at 6:30 a.m. in Arroyo Seco Park in South Pasadena. The inside of the vehicle was doused in gasoline and a rag was stuck in the gas tank. After Andressian Sr. was arrested in Las Vegas on murder charges and brought back to Los Angeles on June 30, detectives went up to Lake Cachuma, north of Santa Barbara, to search again for the boy’s body.
The father had last been seen with the boy at the lake. This time, the detectives found Piqui.
Estevez concluded her letter with the words, “More than anything, I miss saying, I love you more than there is water in the ocean. You’re the love of my life, today, tomorrow and always. I am so proud that I was chosen to be your Momma. See you soon, alligator.”
Miller escorted Estevez out of the church after the service was completed, as Estevez and her family followed her son’s coffin. A reception was held for close friends and family afterwards.
Many local businesses and restaurants reached out to cater the reception free of charge. Due to the large media presence, as well as the size of the funeral attendance, Fremont Avenue from Huntington Drive to Monterey Road was closed off.