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Family continues mourning mother of six, found dead in desert

Irene memorial.png
Posted at 10:01 PM, Jan 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-22 00:22:01-05

PHOENIX — Over the last five days, there have been many questions, answers, and now the push for justice for Irene Luevano.

Luevano, a mother of six, was loved by so many.

"Scream. That's all we just need. Scream mom," said one of her sons, early in the search.

"We're not giving up on you sis," said Luevano’s sister during one of the search efforts.

Here's the timeline from the day of her disappearance to the day her body was found.

Irene's family reported her missing the morning of January 16.

They did this after saying Luevano called them, saying she'd been stabbed in the neck by her boyfriend Jorge Lara.

"Tell us where she's at," pleaded Luevano’s mom early on into the search.

Lara was then arrested in an unrelated forgery case and denied any altercation with Luevano.

A community search followed.

"Pretty much in the bushes. Whatever we could see,” someone told ABC15 during a nighttime search effort.

The car Luevano was last seen in, was found Tuesday in Avondale.

ABC15 was there, talking to the man who found the car.

“It had nothing but dirt on the side and everything. So I went to take a look at it and…sure enough, it was the car,” he told ABC15.

Investigators found blood both inside and outside of her car, which court records show belonged to Lara and Luevano.

"We're going to be searching until we find my sister," said Luevano’s sister, hopeful to find her alive.

The investigation eventually led police to La Paz County, where Luevano's body was found in the desert.

Lara was then questioned again.

This time, he reportedly admitted to killing his girlfriend-- telling investigators, he stabbed Luevano while driving in Phoenix.

Lara said he also managed to get her back in the car after she tried to escape.

Then they traveled west, where court documents say Lara stabbed the mother again, multiple times, killing her.

Cell phone data shows both of their phones were in the same place in Phoenix early Sunday.

That same data shows, Lara's continued west, and Luevano's remained in place.

"You can literally follow and see where that phone goes from tower to tower to tower," said Frank Milstead.

Milstead, a retired Department of Public Safety Director, says data is one of the places investigators look to for answers in a missing person case.

"It's actually incredibly accurate," he added.

Lara is now facing murder charges.

On Friday, Phoenix police announced a second arrest had been made.

Documents show Diego Teran, who's Lara's roommate, admitted to witnessing the killing of Luevano.

Court documents say Teran led investigators to the location of her body, afterward he says he was threatened by Lara to keep quiet.

On the night of January 21, Luevano’s family held a candlelight vigil.

ABC15 talked to friends and family members of the victim, including four of her six children.

“It’s like somebody ripped your heart off your chest,” said Luevano’s oldest daughter Marilisa Salgado.

“She tried her best to give her six kids a life,” added Luevano’s 20-year-old daughter.

“She was a mother and a father for us and I can’t believe he did that to her,” said one of Luevano’s youngest sons.

While the family is devastated, her kids tell ABC15 they take comfort in knowing their mom is in a better place.

The family has set up a GoFundMe to help with funeral and other expenses.

The family is also holding a fundraiser car wash Sunday, January 23 at 9 a.m. at 7616 W Indian School Road in Phoenix.