LOS ANGELES – The mother of a 5-year-old California boy who has been missing for nearly a month made a heart-wrenching plea Wednesday for her son's safe return, saying she believes he's alive and just wants to hug him again.
Los Angeles County sheriff's officials have been searching for Aramazd Andressian Jr. since his father was found unconscious in a park on April 22.
Detectives revealed Wednesday that the father acknowledged taking prescription pills and was found in a car doused with gasoline, alongside a pack of matches.
"My son's disappearance is my worst nightmare," Ana Estevez said through tears. "To my son, this message is for you my love: be brave, honey. Don't ever forget that mama loves you to the moon and the stars. I am counting the days until I see you honey and I will never stop looking for you."
Authorities say the boy, who family members call "Piqui," was last seen with his father, Aramazd Andressian Sr., leaving Disneyland in Anaheim on April 20.
The elder Andressian told investigators that he took his son to Cachuma Lake in Santa Barbara County — about 145 miles (233.34 kilometers) from Disneyland — the following day, but detectives found no evidence the boy had been there. The father was found unconscious in his car at a park in South Pasadena on April 22.
Police began investigating after Estevez reported that Andressian, her estranged husband, failed to drop off their son at a pre-arranged meeting place later that day. The parents are divorcing and share custody.
The father was initially arrested on suspicion of child endangerment and child abduction but was released days later after detectives declined to present the case to prosecutors.
Andressian told investigators that he was at the park with his son but did not remember what happened to his child or any details that would be useful in locating him, sheriff's Lt. Joe Mendoza said. Authorities haven't been able to confirm the boy was at the park.
Mendoza said Andressian's statements have been inconsistent and misleading. He believes the father has information about his son's whereabouts that he's refusing to share with investigators.
Andressian has said he's "heartbroken and grief-stricken that Aramazd Jr. is missing and may be in harm's way." His attorney did not immediately respond Wednesday to a message seeking comment.
A $20,000 reward is being offered for information that helps authorities locate the boy.
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