Phoenix couple charged with first-degree murder in child’s death
PHOENIX — A Phoenix couple was charged with first-degree murder in the death of their adopted child more than a year after their initial arrest, authorities said Friday.
Rafael Loera, 57, and Maribel Loera, 51, were charged in the death of 13-year-old Ana Loera, whose remains were found Jan. 28, 2020, by firefighters responding to a report of smoke at their home near 59th Avenue and Camelback Road.
The Loeras were also charged with multiple counts of child abuse, concealment of a dead body and arson of an occupied structure, Phoenix police said.
The couple had been in custody on child abuse charges prior to Friday’s announcement.
Rafael Loera previously told police that Ana became ill in July 2017 and that he waited several days before trying to seek medical attention.
The child allegedly was sick for several days before she died as Rafael Loera was taking her to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, according to court documents.
Rafael Loera then returned home with the child and didn’t contact authorities over fear of losing their other children, court documents say.
The child was wrapped in a sheet and placed in the attic, according to court documents.
Officers had first responded to the home on Jan. 20 after an 11-year-old girl called to say she was home alone.
The officers found evidence of child abuse and took the girl, the only child at the residence that day, into custody.
Darren DaRonco, a spokesman for the Department of Child Safety, said the agency learned that more children lived in the home after removing the girl. The department obtained a court order to remove a 4-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy and went there.
During his initial court appearance, prosecutor Sarah Corcoran said Rafael Loera confessed to setting the fire in an effort to end his life and burn the house down.
Loera was also asked by investigators about the 13-year-old adopted girl in the couple’s care. Loera said he falsely told authorities the girl moved to Mexico before admitting that she was dead.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.