ECHO PARK (CBSLA.com) — A touching memorial was held Wednesday for the 11-year-old boy found dead last month, wrapped in a blanket in the closet of his Echo Park home.
KCAL9’s Rachel Kim was there to see distraught family and friends — police, city officials and even some strangers — still trying to make sense of the tragedy.
His life was tragically cut short. But the pictures of Yonatan Aguilar’s innocence brought a community together and to its knees, she reported.
“I felt compelled to come down here and pay my respects to the child because I’m a grandmother and have grandchildren his age, it’s so heartbreaking,” said Cynthia Gonzalez, a mourner.
The boy’s death shocked and outraged many. On Aug. 22, Yonatan was found dead, and how he died was even more shocking. Wednesday, his life was mourned at Angeles Temple in Echo Park.
Police say the boy died because of neglect and suffered from severe malnutrition. Investigators said although he was 11, he was the size of a 6-year-old and only weighed 34 pounds. His mother, Veronica Aguilar, 39, has been charged with murder and child abuse resulting in death
“Yonatan, I pledge to you, that we will continue to tell your story. In hopes that similar cases do not repeat again,” said detective Moses Castillo of LAPD’s Child Abuse unit.
The boy’s stepfather, Jose Pinzon, said Yonatan’s mother told him her son was dead. He then called 911. Pinzon and Yonatan’s siblings were at the memorial.
“I don’t have a lot to say other than Yonatan, he’s still alive for me because I carry him in my heart, I will never forget him,” Pinzon said.
The LA County Department of Children and Family Services said they investigated six reports against Yonatan’s family, but social workers declined to open a case saying the allegations of physical abuse were inconclusive.
During the investigation, Yonatan’s family members reportedly told police that Aguilar kept him hidden, and they thought he was staying with someone in Mexico.
“Why didn’t anybody see it? Why didn’t anybody catch [him]? He’s the Angel of Echo Park now, and he’s in a much better place,” said Gonzalez.
Aguilar has pleaded not guilty to the charges. She remains jailed on a $2 million bail. She is due back in court in October.