Charisma Marquez's body was found after a fire in her family's home

By Harriet Sokmensuer
February 06, 2020 04:07 PM
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Charisma Marquez
Ana Loera
| Credit: Facebook

An Arizona couple have been accused of keeping the body of their 11-year-old daughter, who was adopted, in their attic for more than two years.

On Jan. 28, Phoenix firefighters responded to the home of Rafael and Maribel Loera for a house fire. While inside the home, first responders discovered human bones, according to the Phoenix Police Department.

The body was hidden within the drywall of the home and found after the fire was extinguished, the Arizona Republic reports.

During police questioning, Rafael allegedly told police the body belonged to 11-year-old Ana Loera, also known as Charisma Marquez, according to KIRO.

In July 2017, Charisma reportedly became violently ill. The couple waited to take her to the hospital, but after a few days, they decided to get help for her. While on the way to the hospital, the child died, Rafael claimed.

Afraid authorities would take their other children, the couple decided to wrap Charisma’s body in a sheet and hide it in the attic, he reportedly told authorities.

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According to police, a week earlier, officers responded to the same home to check on the welfare of a different 11-year-old girl after she called police saying she was left home alone.

She was one of the couple’s foster children and told police she was hungry after being left alone for two days, the Republic reports.

Upon arrival, officers found evidence of child abuse and the 11-year-old girl was taken by the state’s Department of Child Safety that same day. She was the only child at home because her family was out of town, the girl told police. She also reportedly said she had an older sister who vanished in 2017.

This undated booking photo provided by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office shows 50-year-old Maribel Loera. Loera and her husband, 56-year-old Rafael Loera, are accused of intentionally setting their west Phoenix home ablaze after their children were taken by the state, leading firefighters to find unidentified skeletal remains. They have been booked on suspicion of arson, child abuse and concealment of a dead body. Authorities haven't determined whether the remains belong to a child or adult Skeletal Remains Child Abuse - 29 Jan 2020
Rafael and Maribel Loera
| Credit: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office/AP/Shutterstock (2)

One hour before the fire on Jan. 28, DCS removed two more children, ages 4 and 9, from the home, according to police.

Both the 11-year-old girl and 9-year-old boy showed signs of abuse—DCS wrote that the boy’s injuries were “too numerous to count,” court documents obtained by the Republic state.

Rafael then allegedly started a fire in an attempt to kill himself, but a neighbor reported the blaze.

Rafael has been charged to concealing human body parts, endangerment, child abuse and arson while his wife faces concealment of a body and child abuse charges.

In a statement to ABC15, DCS said no one knew Charisma was missing because once a child is adopted the department is no longer involved with the family.

“Arizona has laws that require some professionals, such as teachers, doctors, police officers, to report abuse or neglect,” the spokesperson wrote. “We ask that if you reasonably suspect that a child is being abused or neglected report it to DCS at 888-SOS-CHILD (888-767-2445).”

PEOPLE was unable to immediately reach the couple’s public defender for comment Thursday.