Two Phoenix parents were charged with murdering their adoptive daughter and burning her remains in a January house fire.
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 13-year-old Ana Loera, according to Phoenix police.
Both Maribel and Rafael have been in custody on child abuse charges since this investigation began on Jan. 20, 2020, when Phoenix Police officers responded to a check on an 11-year-old girl left home alone near West Wolf Street.
The child reportedly told police of various acts of neglect and abuse from her adoptive parents, Maribel and Rafael Loera. The Department of Child Safety responded the same night and took her into their care, according to police.
The Arizona Department of Child Safety was also called to the home that same night and took the girl into their care.
On Jan. 28, child services officials returned to the residence and removed two more children, a 4-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl, from the Loera's custody.
After DCS left the residence, there was a 911 call of a house fire at 5800 West Wolf Street, authorities said. Phoenix Fire personnel responded and extinguished the fire. While inside the home, they located human remains. Police were called and investigators determined the remains were of a juvenile.
During the investigation, the remains were positively identified as 13-year-old Ana Loera, their adopted daughter.
The exact date of death is unknown. According to witnesses, she was last seen alive in 2016.
According to AZCentral.com, Ana, whose birth name was Charisma Marquez, was adopted by the family along with two siblings and another child.
Rafael first told authorities that Ana had moved to Mexico, according to ABC 15. Loera later admitted that Ana got sick in July 2017 and they waited several days to get her medical attention. Rafael says she died en route to the hospital.
They reportedly feared that their other children would be taken away, so they did not report her death. Rafael said the girl was abused by Maribel and her remains would "probably" show injuries.
Rafael reportedly told the police that they kept Ana's body in the attic.
Rafael said he felt "hopeless" and removed the girl's remains from the attic and placed them in the backyard before trying to set their home on fire, according to police.
The Office of the Medical Examiner ruled her death a homicide.