PHOENIX — Phoenix police confirm the body of 37-year-old Irene Luevano has been found in a remote area of La Paz County. Her boyfriend is now facing murder charges.
Irene's family is now left heartbroken, with a memorial of candles and pictures in place at her West Valley home. As the family tries to make sense of the situation, they're left with one question for Irene's boyfriend, who is now the prime suspect - why?
"Why did he did do this to her? Because he left the family suffering... he left my nephews, my nieces, my mom, all of us [suffering]. I just want him to pay for what he did," said Sandra Mercado, Irene's sister.
The family is feeling sadness, pain, and anger.
"We're just hurting right now," said Mercado.
It's a devastating ending to a five-day search for Luevano.
"What could I say, my sister is gone. We just want... now we just want justice; we just want justice," said Mercado.
"My daughter is resting with her sister in heaven and my dad, my dad's in heaven too," said Arlene Luevano.
The family last heard from Irene early Sunday morning, when she called saying she had been stabbed in the neck by her boyfriend, George Lara. On Thursday, Phoenix police made the discovery of Irene's body in a rural area of La Paz County, with obvious signs of trauma.
"We tried our best looking for her. We knew that we weren't going to probably find her alive, but we wanted to find her," said Mercado.
Thursday marked the first time since Irene was reported missing, that the family wasn't out searching.
Instead, they were holding each other tight.
"That I love her very much. I have her in my heart and I'll always be praying for her," said Luevano.
As for Lara, he was already behind bars in an unrelated forgery case. Now, after Thursday's discovery, he's facing a new round of charges including murder.
"My nephews and nieces are without a mom because of his fault and, it's just not fair, not fair. Then the way he did... go and throw my sister out there in the middle of nowhere… you don't do that; you don't do that," said Mercado.
The family says they plan to travel Friday morning to La Paz County, before returning to Phoenix to hold a candlelight vigil in Irene's honor.
The family has set up a GoFundMe to help with funeral and other expenses.