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Woman says state failed her daughter after remains found in adoptive parents' attic

Posted at 6:25 PM, Feb 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-05 23:11:55-05

PHOENIX — A woman who says she's the biological mother of the girl who was found dead inside a Phoenix attic says the state failed her daughter.

Priscilla Marquez spoke with ABC15 about her daughter, Charisma Marquez, after her remains were found in her adoptive parents' home.

Marquez said her three young children were taken from her by the Department of Children and Family Services. Her daughter, Charisma, and two other children were placed in a foster home and eventually adopted by Maribel and Rafael Loera.

"I loved her, and I still do, it's not a past, it's a forever love," she said.

Marquez said she blames herself for her daughter's awful death, "I had problems in the past," she said. "I'm paying for it now, I do blame myself for this."

Marquez tells ABC15 she has been clean nearly seven years, and has had a stable job for nearly five years now.

Along with her life of recovery, she has contact with two of her older children, a 14-year-old daughter, and 21-year-old son.

However, she said a piece of her has always been missing after losing her three youngest children, "I always thought they'll come looking for me," she said.

Last week, documents say the remains of an 11-year-old girl were found in the attic of a home near Camelback Road and 59th Avenue.

Court paperwork said the 11-year-old found in the ceiling went missing in 2017. The adoptive father told investigators that the girl was sick, likely from being abused by the adoptive mother. When the girl died, they put the body in the attic out of fear of losing the other kids.

"They are monsters," Marquez said, "no human being, no normal human being would do that."

Marquez said she does not understand how her daughter was missing for more than two years.

Police were alerted to the Phoenix home after another 11-year-old girl called authorities saying she was abused.

DCS eventually removed her, and two other children from the home.

After they were removed, court paperwork says the adoptive father tried to commit suicide by burning the house, and him inside. However, the fire department was called for the house fire, and when they came to put out the fire, they found the child's remains in the attic.

The adoptive parents are behind bars, and Marquez blames herself and questions DCS.

"If I was the one that is bad, and you said I don't deserve my children, how can you say that these monsters had the right and deserved my children?"

A spokesperson for DCS responded to ABC15 about how no one knew the child was missing for years.

In an email, they said that once an adoption is finalized by the court, DCS is no longer involved with the family. They also say that they would not know about the child missing unless they received a complaint from the community.

"Arizona has laws that require some professionals, such as teachers, doctors, police officers, to report abuse or neglect," the wrote, "We ask that if you reasonably suspect that a child is being abused or neglected report it to DCS at 888-SOS-CHILD (888-767-2445)."

As far as the adoption process, they say families are vetted:

"This process includes full background checks, a central registry check for prior DCS history, home inspections, reference checks, a fingerprint clearance card issued from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and licensing classes through a provider agency.

Once a child is placed with a foster parent, they receive monthly home visits from DCS caseworkers and quarterly home visits from their licensing agencies."