Two Arizona parents, who have been in police custody on child abuse and other charges for more than a year, were charged with murder Friday after authorities found skeletal remains at their Phoenix home during a fire in January 2020.
The remains were recently identified as the couple's 13-year-old adopted daughter, Ana Loera, who was last seen alive in 2016.
Maribel Loera, 51, and Rafael Loera, 57, are now facing a litany of charges, including first-degree murder, child abuse, concealment of a dead body and arson.
Police originally responded to the home on Jan. 20, 2020, when they contacted an 11-year-old girl who had been left home alone and disclosed acts of neglect and abuse from her parents.
She was taken into the care of the Department of Child Safety that evening. Authorities returned to the home about a week later on Jan. 28, 2020, and removed two more children – a 4-year-old and a 9-year-old – from the custody of the parents.
Soon after authorities left the residence that day, the fire department was called to the home on reports of a house fire.
As Phoenix firefighters extinguished the flames, they discovered the human remains of a juvenile, which were positively identified as 13-year-old Ana Loera. It is unclear when exactly she died, but she was last seen alive in 2016 and the Maricopa Medica Examiner ruled her death a homicide.
Prosecutors say Rafael Loera admitted that Ana Loera got sick in July 2017 and didn't receive medical attention, resulting in her death several days later.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.