Skeletal remains in Phoenix attic were of adopted girl who died 2 years ago, father says
A father, under arrest in Arizona, told police that human remains found inside his burning home are of an adopted girl who died 2½ years ago, court documents revealed on Monday.
In a criminal complaint filed by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office against Rafael Loera, 56, and Maribel Loera, 50, the dad allegedly told Phoenix police the girl died while the family was taking her to a hospital.
“Rafael disclosed in July 2017, while the child was on summer break, she became ill,” according to the complaint.
“Rafael waited several days to seek medical treatment before attempting to take her to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Rafael detailed how she died in route to the hospital. The child had been throwing up in the days leading up to her death and had what he described as convulsions before passing away.”
The Loeras came to the attention of authorities last month after social workers took an 11-year-old girl away from the residence that “appeared in disarray as it was dirty with what appeared to be human feces throughout the residence on the floors,” according to the criminal complaint.
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A week later, on Jan. 28, the Arizona Department of Child Safety removed two other children, 9 and 4 years old, from the house, and about an hour later, neighbors reported flames at the home.
“Rafael explained he did not want to live anymore.” the complaint said.
Rafael Loera told police that Maribel Loera had regularly beaten the children with broom sticks and knotted extension cords.
“He admitted that he never reported this to police fearing Maribel would hurt him,” according to the complaint.
The 11-year-old girl and 9-year-old boy who were removed from the Loeras’ home both had multiple injuries.
The girl had “numerous abrasions” and scars, including from healed burns, on her left shoulder, prosecutors said in the complaint. The boy had “cuts and abrasions on face, loop marks on legs, injuries too numerous to count,” according to the complaint.
Rafael Loera has been charged with arson, concealing a body and two counts child abuse. Maribel Loera has been charged with concealing a body and two counts of child abuse.
A court-appointed lawyer for the suspects did not immediately return calls on Tuesday seeking comment.
David K. Li
David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.