A Phoenix couple allegedly hid the remains of their 11-year-old foster daughter in 2017 until the two were arrested on a slew of charges this year.
Maribel and Rafael Loera were jailed last week after authorities took custody of their three children, ages 4, 9 and 11.
On Jan. 20, Phoenix police responded to a home near 59th Avenue and Camelback Road after an 11-year-old girl called 911 and said she was home alone. Officers learned she had been home alone for two days and was hungry.
Police learned her foster mother, Maribel Loera, was likely in Minnesota with the 11-year-old’s siblings. Her father was also out of town at an unknown location, records released Monday state.
Police found the home in disarray as it was dirty with what appeared to be human feces on the floors. The Arizona Department of Child Safety took custody of the 11-year-old.
Around 1:30 p.m. Jan. 28, a DCS employee returned to the home and contacted the Loeras. Raphael Loera signed paperwork turning over the 4-year-old girl and 9-year-old boy to DCS. However, Maribel Loera reportedly refused to exit or speak with authorities.
The 11-year-old told Phoenix child crime detectives that Ms. Loera was physically abusive, striking her multiple times with knotted extension cords. Authorities noted visible injuries.
The girl also said she had an older sister who disappeared about two years ago. Maribel Loera reportedly told the girl her sister was adopted and sent to Columbia. But Rafael Loera said she was adopted and sent to Mexico, records state.
After DCS took the children from the home, Phoenix Fire responded to the home for a fire. Mr. Loera allegedly admitted that he and his wife started the fire, which got out of hand but was then put out.
While inspecting the home, Phoenix Fire saw what looked like human bones. Phoenix police responded and later determined the bones to be of a juvenile.
Mr. Loera admitted to starting the fire, saying he didn’t want to live anymore. He also said his wife would abuse the 11-year-old and 9-year-old with an electrical cord and broom handle. She would also hit Mr. Loera for defending the children.
Mr. Loera said he didn’t report the abuse out of fear that his wife would hurt him. All five had initially moved to Minnesota but Mr. Loera returned to Arizona with the 11-year-old to protect her from Ms. Loera.
However, he could not afford to stay home with the girl, so he continued to work his two jobs at Amazon and Sierra Linda High School while leaving the girl alone for most of the day, records state.
When asked about the 11-year-old who had not been seen or heard from since 2017, Mr. Loera said she had become ill in July 2017. He waited days to get her help and tried to take her to the hospital. However, the girl died while they were on the way.
Fearing the other children would be taken away, Mr. Loera brought the girl back home and hid her remains in the attic. Police said neither parent contacted authorities to report the girl’s death.
Before setting the house on fire, Mr. Loera allegedly removed the remains and placed them in the backyard. He claimed his wife was abusing the girl, but he never reported the abuse.
The Loeras were jailed in lieu of $200,000 bonds with an arraignment hearing Wednesday, Feb. 5.