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L.A. Coroner: Boy Drowned in Pool

ByABC News
June 5, 2002, 10:37 AM

June 5 -- A missing boy found dead in a swimming pool died of accidental drowning in the same pool, the Los Angeles County coroner's office determined today.

A spokesman for the coroner's office told reporters there was no evidence that the 7-year-old had been removed from the pool.

Paolo Ayala disappeared Sunday after attending a birthday party at a home in the wealthy Holmby Hills area of the city. His body was found Tuesday at the bottom of a pool behind the residence.

Deputy Police Chief David Kalish said investigators had searched the pool Monday but that it was possible Paolo's body was there all along. The statement marked a reversal of his comments Tuesday, when he said the body must have been put in the pool after police searched it.

"I don't want to rule anything out and that's why I want to make clear, as you know, with a swimming pool with kids in it, the water isn't always clear, you know the lighting, the reflection, etc.," he said.

"Is it possible that this small child had been in the pool this entire time? It's possible."

On Tuesday, Kalish explained things differently. "At this time it appears that at some time during the evening or early morning hours somebody placed that body in the swimming pool," he said. "There is no way that boy's body was there yesterday."

Housekeeper Discovered Body After Extensive Search

A housekeeper at the large home saw Paolo's body face up on the pool bottom at about 8:30 a.m Tuesday. Firefighters pulled the boy out, but found the child was already dead.

"I heard one scream, my housekeeper came up to my bedroom [and] says "Sir, the little boy's at the bottom of the pool," said the home's owner, Saeed Farkhondehpour. "And I went, 'Oh no, oh no.' "

Paolo was last seen alive shortly before his parents arrived to pick him up at 5 p.m. Sunday, and police had conducted extensive searches. A $25,000 reward had been offered, and police were at the home until about 10 p.m. Monday.

Officers, volunteers and a bloodhound brought in from Riverside scoured the area without finding any sign of Ayala.