Ernestina Quintero woke up just after midnight to the sound of neighbors pounding on her front door.
Something terrible had happened to Nathan, the cute 6-year-old boy whom she had babysat over the years.
The child's body was found on a bed inside a small white trailer tucked behind a home in the Florence-Firestone neighborhood in South L.A. The boy had been stabbed and would later die at St. Francis Medical Center.
As news of Nathan Sanchez's violent death Thursday rippled along East 88th Street, neighbors and family expressed deep sorrow and complete shock.
A 38-year-old man identified as the boy's father had been found standing in a front yard on East 88th Street, covered in blood and "talking and speaking incoherently," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Eddie Hernandez.
A kitchen knife, authorities said, also was found at the scene.
After questioning, deputies said Alejandro Sanchez-Santoyo was arrested on suspicion of murder. He is being held on $1-million bail.
The suspect's sister, Yolanda Sanchez-Santoyo, 47, said she was stunned by the boy's death.
"He was my nephew and I loved him very much," Sanchez said.
Sanchez said she had spoken several times to her brother about taking custody of her nephew because her brother was often away, but he always refused.
She said Nathan's mother died five days after he was born.
"This is a double heartbreak," Sanchez said.
Six houses away, Quintero, 50, described Nathan Sanchez as a happy, outgoing and curious child.
"He couldn't sit still for a moment," she said. "I'm terribly sad over this."
She said the boy attended Parmelee Avenue Elementary School and recalled taking the child to Disneyland in May. It was his first trip to the amusement park.
"He didn't want to leave," she said. "He was so happy."
Sitting on her front porch late Thursday afternoon, she stared at the small swimming pool the boy had been using the day before.