ECHO PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) --Family and friends attended a bilingual memorial service for 11-year-old Yonatan Aguilar, who was found dead inside a closet at his Echo Park home in late August.
When Yonatan was found on Aug. 22, authorities said he was malnourished, abused and only weighed 34 pounds. His mother, 39-year-old Veronica Aguilar, was arrested and charged with murder and child abuse resulting in death.
Los Angeles police Detective Moses Castile said it may be the worst case of abuse he's seen in 25 years.
Yonatan's step-father, Jose Pinzon, spoke publicly for the first time at the memorial with the help of an English translator.
"He's still alive for me because I carry him in my heart," he said.
Yonatan's family did not want to answer any questions about the case on camera, neither did the LAPD. But records from the Department of Child and Family Services show Yonatan may have suffered years of abuse, with several school employees calling police to express their concern.
In a statement issued on Aug. 29, the department said it had received six reports against the family from 2002 until 2012, with four of those involving Yonatan. But each report did not result in further investigations by Los Angeles police.
Veronica Aguilar appeared in court on Sept. 8, pleading not guilty. Her next date is scheduled for Oct. 20 and she remains in jail on $2 million bail. If convicted as charged, she faces a possible maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison.