PHOENIX — The parents of 13-year-old Ana Loera are officially being charged with first-degree murder after the girl's remains were found in a house fire in January of 2020.
The Phoenix Police Department announced on Friday that enough probable cause was developed to add additional charges against 51-year-old Maribel Loera and 57-year-old Rafael Loera.
The investigation started on January 20, 2020 when Phoenix officers responded to check on an 11-year-old girl who was left home alone at a home near 59th Avenue and Camelback Road.
Authorities said the girl reported acts of neglect and abuse from her adoptive parents, Maribel and Rafel Loera to the officers.
The Arizona Department of Child Safety was also called to the home that same night and took the girl into their care.
A few days later on January 28, DCS officials returned to the residence and removed two additional children, a 4-year-old boy, and a 9-year-old girl, from the Loera's custody.
After DCS left there was a 911 call made with reports of a fire at the same residence.
Fire crews found a large hole in the ground and also attempted to ventilate the structure by pulling down parts of the drywall and ventilation.
"As they did so, they immediately stopped and observed what they perceived to be human bones which came from the ceiling, resting on top of the attic insulation," police paperwork says. Fire officials immediately contacted Phoenix police to investigate.
Police later discovered the remains belonged to 13-year-old Ana Loera, who had been adopted by Rafael and Maribel.
When asked about Ana, who had not been seen since 2017, Rafael said she moved to Mexico and did not want contact. He later admitted that the child had gotten sick in July 2017 and they waited several days to get her medical attention. Rafael says she died en route to the hospital.
Rafael says they feared 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.
They reportedly kept the girl'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.
The Office of the Medical Examiner ruled her death as a homicide.
Both Rafael and Maribel now face charges of murder, child abuse, concealment of a dead body, and arson.