LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The South Pasadena father accused in the disappearance and murder of his son killed the 5-year-old to get back at his estranged wife, tried to commit suicide and was getting ready to flee the country, Los Angeles sheriff’s officials said Monday.
Aramazd Andressian Sr., 35, was arrested in Las Vegas on Friday on suspicion of killing Aramazd Andressian Jr. But the boy’s body has not been found.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell said detectives arrested Andressian in part because he “was becoming a flight risk.”
He appeared to be planning to flee the United States to a country from which he could not be extradited, Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau Lt. Joe Mendoza said.
Investigators gave no specifics on any new evidence explaining the suspect’s latest arrest. Andressian was first arrested in April in Los Angeles County but was later released for lack of evidence.
Before Friday’s arrest, the suspect had spent 47 days “socializing” in Las Vegas. The investigation included several weeks of surveillance in which Andressian “consistently” changed his appearance and acted in a manner inconsistent with the behavior of a grieving parent, according to Mendoza.
“I can only speak for myself. If my son was missing, I would be doing things that Ana (suspect’s wife) was doing – circulating fliers, looking for your son. He was not doing that. He was socializing in Vegas,” Mendoza pointed out.
The lieutenant said Andressian was in a “tumultuous divorce” and a bitter custody battle with his estranged wife.
Andressian has been uncooperative and given false information to investigators since he was placed under suspicion, Mendoza said.
He 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.
The last confirmed sighting of the boy was with his father around 1 a.m. on April 21 as they left Disneyland.
Andressian was supposed to drop him off to his estranged wife. That day, Andressian was found intoxicated in a park. He told police multiple versions of what happened to his son.
The search for the boy spanned several Southern California counties, including in the Lake Cachuma Recreation Area near Santa Barbara, where Andressian told authorities he took the boy the day after the Disneyland trip.
Law enforcement officials intend to continue searching for the boy’s body in Santa Barbara County, Mendoza said.
The boy’s mother, Ana Estevez, called her son by the pet name of “Piqui.” She said in a statement: “Piqui was everything great in my life, and I cannot imagine the emptiness and void that I will bear until we are together again some day. My heart is shattered and I will miss my son immensely…for the rest of my life.”
“This is one of those cases that tore people’s hearts,” Capt. Christopher Bergner said.
“His mother is heartbroken. Her son is her life. We just want him home one way or another. We want the child back. We believe this was act was the ultimate act of revenge,” the boy’s grandmother, Donna Estevez, said in a statement.
Even without a body, District Attorney Jackie Lacey said prosecutors have a strong case.
“It may seem unusual to file murder charges when we have not yet found the child’s body. But rest assured, my office has successfully prosecuted such cases before,” Lacey explained.
If convicted of murder, Andressian could get a maximum of 25 years to life in prison.
He is being held in a Las Vegas jail on $10 million bail pending an extradition hearing Tuesday.
His attorney, Robert Nardoni, said his client is innocent.