A murder charge has been filed against a couple jailed on charges of child abuse and concealing the skeletal remains of their adopted 13-year-old daughter after she was found 14 months ago at their west Phoenix home.

Author: Cameron La Fontaine

The murder charge was added Wednesday against Maribel Loera, 51, and Rafael Loera, 57, in the death of Ana Loera.

They had previously been charged with child abuse, abandonment or concealment of a dead body, and arson of an occupied structure.   

This undated booking photos provided by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office shows Maribel Loera, left, and Rafael Loera. A murder charge has been filed against Maribel Loera, 51, and Rafael Loera, 57, jailed on charges of child abuse and concealing skeletal remains of their adopted 13-year-old daughter after she was found 14 months ago at their west Phoenix home. (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Rafael Loera previously told police that Ana became ill in July 2017 and that he waited several days before trying to seek medical attention.

Police also say Rafael Loera told them the child died on the way to the hospital and that the death wasn´t reported out of fear that their other adopted children would be taken away by the state.

The remains were discovered after neighbors reported a fire at the family’s home.

When working on ventilation at the home, firefighters discovered human remains atop attic insulation. 

Rafael Loera told investigators that he siphoned gasoline from his van and set the house on fire because he was feeling hopeless and suicidal, according to court records.

Last winter, an Arizona woman came forward claiming to be the birth mother of the girl.

Priscilla Marquez ended up building a makeshift memorial made up of candles, photos and stuffed animals paying tribute to her daughter, Charisma Marquez, also known as Ana Loera.

The child, who would have turned 14 years old in January had not been seen or heard from since July 2017.

Marquez told AZFamily.com last year that the Loeras’ dead foster daughter was her biological child, who was removed from her care in 2011, along with her two other children, as she struggled with drug addiction. 

Marquez pointed a finger of blame at child services for failing to ensure the safety and well-being of Charisma, her sister and brother.

Police examine evidence at the west Phoenix home last January where the couple have been accused of hiding the dead body of an 11-year-old foster girl in the attic for two years

‘I don’t understand how these people passed a background check to be able to take three innocent children,’ she said of the Loeras. 

Marquez’s surviving son and daughter were taken into the custody of child service following the foster parents’ arrest.  

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