Parents Charged With Murder of Adopted Daughter After Her Remains Were Found Hidden in Attic, Police say
Maribel Loera, 51, and Rafael Loera, 57, have been charged with first-degree murder, several counts of child abuse, concealment of a dead body, and arson of an occupied structure in the death of their 13-year-old daughter.
The adoptive parents of 13-year-old Ana Loera, who has been missing since 2016, have been officially charged in her murder after the girl’s skeletal remains were found when firefighters were battling a blaze at her Arizona home in January 2020, officials said.
Maribel Loera, 51, and Rafael Loera, 57, have been charged with first-degree murder, several counts of child abuse, concealment of a dead body, and arson of an occupied structure in the death of their daughter. Police said enough probable cause was developed to add additional charges against the pair, the Phoenix Police Department announced on Friday.
The couple had been in custody on child abuse charges since January 20, 2020, when the investigation began. Phoenix officers had responded to check on an 11-year-old girl who was left home alone, according to KIRO7 News. Authorities said the girl reported acts of negligence and abuse from her adoptive parents and also said she had a big sister who was “adopted” and was sent away to either Colombia or Mexico. The Arizona Department of Child Safety removed the girl and took her into their care the same day, according to a police statement.
On January 28, 2020, the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) returned to remove two additional children, a 4-year-old male and a 9-year-old female, from the custody of Maribel and Rafael Loera, police said.
After DCS left, there was a 911 call reporting a fire at the same residence. Neighbors reported the fire. When firefighters arrived on the scene and began extinguishing the fire, they discovered human remains atop attic insulation. Rafael told investigators that he siphoned gasoline from his van and set the house on fire because he was feeling hopeless and suicidal, according to court records filed by prosecutors, the Associated Press reported.
Police later affirmed the remains were of a juvenile and were positively identified as 13-year-old Ana Loera, ABC15 Arizona reported
The exact date of Loera’s death is unknown, however, according to witnesses she was last seen alive in 2016, police said. The Office of the Medical Examiner ruled the young girl’s death a homicide, according to the police statement.
During police questioning, Rafael allegedly told police the body belonged to Ana, also known as Charisma Marquez, according to KIRO.
Initially, he told police that Ana moved to Mexico and no longer wanted contact with her adoptive parents, according to ABC15. Police say Rafael later confessed that Ana had gotten violently sick in July 2017 and that they waited several days to get her medical attention. When they decided to take her to the hospital she died en route, People reported. Fearing their other children would be taken away. He allegedly told police that they both decided to wrap Charisma's body in a sheet and hide it in the attic. He allegedly said the child was abused by Maribel and that her remains would “probably” show injuries, and as a result, reportedly kept her body in the attic, ABC15 reported.
Miranda Stark, a public defender representing Rafael Loera, and Robert Precht, attorney for Maribel Loera, did not respond to Inside Edition Digital’s request for comment.
In February 2020, both Maribel and Rafael pleaded not guilty to the initial charges against them that were child abuse and concealing a dead body. Rafael Loera faced additional charges of arson, according to AZCentral.com.
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