Man accused of stealing funeral funds

SOUTH GLENDALE — A 25-year-old Glendale man is expected to be arraigned today in connection with stealing a collection jar for the funeral of a 6-year-old boy who died last week from leukemia, officials said.

Arthur Madoyan was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of burglary after being identified as the one who stole the donation jar Sunday afternoon from the El Mexicano Meat Market at 836 S. Glendale Ave., police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

Store owners Emilia and Ramon Parra set out the collection jar, which contained $300, last week in an effort to help Eduardo Morales-Peña's family gather enough money to pay for his funeral. The couple often sets out collection jars for some of their loyal customers.

"We try to help out the Hispanic community in any way that we can," Emilia Parra said.

Eduardo, of Lincoln Heights, died while waiting for a bone marrow match, officials said.

He succumbed to his illness on Aug. 11 at his home, said his sister, Alyeli Morales, who lives in Glendale. He had been battling a rare form of leukemia since he was 2.

The Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center had organized a massive bone marrow drive in January in an effort to find a match for Eduardo.

"He was so smart, and he talked like he was an adult," Morales said. "He knew everything that was happening to him."

The funeral was expected to cost $1,800, she added.

On Sunday, Madoyan entered the market, grabbed a beer from the refrigerator, drank some and returned it, according to police reports.

Madoyan returned to the market minutes later, grabbed the collection jar and fled, according to a police report.

"We were busy when he grabbed and stole it," Ramon Parra said.

After the couple supplied police with surveillance footage of the theft, Glendale Police Officer Matt Wilson spotted Madoyan walking on South Glendale Avenue and arrested him.

Madoyan told Wilson that he didn't know what the money was for, and that he had taken the jar "as an impulse," according to police reports.

By the time he was arrested, he had allegedly already spent the money on food and cigarettes.

To help Eduardo's family with funeral expenses, Wilson began collecting money from fellow officers and is planning to seek additional funds from the Glendale Police Officer's Assn., Lorenz said.

So far, about $500 has been collected.

Morales said her family is still looking for funds to help pay for burial expenses.

Anyone interested in donating to Eduardo's family may visit the meat market or call his sister at (818) 968-6347.

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