Teammates Bid Goodby to Slain Boy at Funeral : Homicide: The crowd of 250 mourns catcher Junior Cervantes, 13, and his father who were killed with three workers of the family catering business.


Junior Cervantes wanted to be a professional baseball player, but on Monday it was his grieving mother who was presented with a Dodger uniform as the body of her 13-year-old son was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale.

“One thing is for sure,” Kurt Rennels, the boy’s former coach, told a crowd of 250 mourners. “Wherever he’s at, he’s playing baseball, his uniform is dirty, his hat is chewed up and he’s got a smile from ear to ear.”

Ismael Cervantes Jr., who was known as Junior to his friends, and his father, Ismael Cervantes, 43, were buried in an emotional ceremony as police continued to investigate the brutal slayings of the pair who were killed along with three employees of Cervantes’ catering truck business last week. The bodies were discovered in rural La Tuna Canyon two days after the five disappeared from the Tacos Tlaquepaque catering truck in North Hollywood, where Cervantes had sold tacos for 10 years.

Mourners at the funeral included working-class families and a score of schoolchildren, some in the blue all-star baseball caps of the Pony League team on which the younger Cervantes was a standout catcher.


Father Henry Perez of St. Mary of the Angels Church in Los Angeles directed his remarks at those feeling anger over the seemingly senseless killing of five people.

One possible motive being investigated is robbery, but authorities have said Cervantes rarely carried more than $200 in cash on his catering truck.

“Don’t lose your faith,” Perez said, then quoted from writings found in the basement of a house where Jews had hidden from Nazis in World War II. “I believe in the sun, even when it’s not shining, I believe in love, even when I don’t feel it, and I believe in God, even when He is silent.”

Junior’s mother, Martha Cervantes, collapsed as she was being led from the church, but recovered and continued to the grave site on a slope looking north over Glendale. The plots are in the same area as that of former New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel.


At the brief graveside services, friends filed in front of family members sitting in chairs, kissing and hugging them. Rennels, a counselor for youths on probation, handed the boy’s mother a Pony League Dodger uniform with Junior’s name and number on it.

It is a replica of the uniform the boy wore on the team Rennels coached. Friends said Junior dreamed of being a big-league Dodger some day.

Rennels also presented Martha Cervantes with a baseball autographed by the boy’s former teammates, some of whom attended the services.

Survivors of the elder Cervantes include three daughters, Cecilia Cervantes, Virginia Cervantes and Karla Cervantes, and two sons, Johnny Cervantes and Israel Cervantes.


A rosary was scheduled to be recited Monday night at Castaneda-Crollet Mortuary for the other three homicide victims, brothers Jesus Sandoval, 16, and Heriberto Sandoval, 19, and cook Francisco Gasca, 31.

Interment will take place later in Mexico.