Firefighters in Arizona made a tragic discovery recently while battling a small blaze at a house near Camelback and 59th Avenue, Phoenix, when they happened upon the skeletal remains of what they believed to be a child were found concealed in the drywall of the attic.
The January 28th discovery launched an investigation into the homeowners, Rafael Loera, 56, and Maribel Loera, 50, who had adopted several children into their family.
Rafael, who worked as a teacher’s aide, soon began to talk and admitted that the remains were that of his 10-year-old adopted daughter, Ana, who he claimed had fallen ill in the summer of 2017.
He confessed that he neglected to seek medical attention for the child and claimed that when he finally decided to drive her to the Phoenix Children's Hospital that she began having seizures during the car ride and died inside the vehicle. He went on to tell police that he turned the car around, drove home and wrapped the child’s body in a bed sheet before concealing the body within the walls of their home.
When asked why he did not report Ana’s death to the authorities he told them that he was afraid that the Arizona Department of Child Safety services would remove their other adopted children from the home. One article on the case states that at one point the man claimed that Ana had been living in Mexico and did not want contact with her family in the U.S
He said on the night of the fire, which was reported by a neighbor, he went out into the yard, took some gas from his vehicle and deliberately set the blaze. When firefighters attempted to get into the Loera’s home, Rafael was hesitant to let them inside, telling them that the fire had already been put out and was just smoking. His wife was said to be hosing down the area when they arrived. Rafael later admitted that he had started the fire because he didn’t want to live anymore.
The case has left many people baffled about how the child was not reported missing after her death. Ana was enrolled in a local primary school who told investigators that the child failed to show up to school after her last sighting in May of 2016.
Ana’s biological mother, Priscilla Marquez, who put her daughter up for adoption around 2012 as she was struggling with addiction at the time, has been vocal in the media about the case and is angered that the Department of child services did not keep tabs on Ana’s whereabouts and wellbeing. She told the media that she had been clean and sober for some years and intended to establish a relationship with her kids when they were older, a chance she would never get to have with Ana.
"They didn't ask to be adopted so they could be abused. The question I ask is why, why my children, what did they do." She told reporters. “It was like a nightmare, something you don't ever want to hear is that your child's remains were found.”
Those following the case ask the same question- why would anyone adopt children only to abuse and neglect them?
Rafael Loera told police that he intentionally started the fire at his home because he was feeling guilt-ridden and suicidal about Ana’s death. He claims that his wife, Maribel, abused the children regularly and said he didn’t report it to the authorities because he was afraid of her and what she would do.
According to reports both parents have been charged with child abuse as well as concealment of a body and arson.
These claims were backed up by one of the other adopted children in the home, an 11-year-old girl who made a desperate phone call to the emergency services on January 20th to report that she had been left home alone for two days without any food. She told the dispatcher that she was scared.
After the call was made the child was taken from the home, along with a 4-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy. Examination of the children revealed evidence of abuse, the boy was reportedly riddled with scars and abrasions in various states of healing, indicating that his abuse was constant and ongoing, his wounds were recorded as being “too numerous to count”. The 11-year-old girl who made the call for help was also noted to have multiple burns, scars and wounds across her body and chin. She would later go on to detail the abused her adoptive mother had inflicted on her, including being lashed with a knotted cord. She also voiced concern about her sister, Ana, who had not been seen for several years after falling ill.
The house was reported to be in a state of squalor and disarray, with human waste found inside the premises.
Priscilla Marquez has reportedly confirmed to be the biological mother of the two eldest children, but says she had no prior connection to Rafael and Maribel Loera and did not know of them prior to the adoption.