PHOENIX – The adopted girl whose skeletal remains were discovered by firefighters at a west Phoenix home last year died of physical abuse and neglect, according to a report released Friday by the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The report lists Anna Loera’s cause of death as “child abuse, including acute and chronic skeletal injuries and neglect” and the manner of death as “homicide.” (Note: Her name has been spelled Ana in police press releases; authorities didn’t respond to KTAR News 92.3 FM‘s request for clarification.)
Her adoptive parents, 57-year-old Rafael Loera and 51-year-old Maribel Loera, were indicted last month for first-degree murder in the case.
A grand jury also indicted the couple for abandonment or concealment of a dead body and two counts each of child abuse. Rafael faces an additional count of arson of an occupied structure.
The Loeras were initially arrested on Jan. 28, 2020, after firefighters found remains after responding to a 911 call about a house fire near 59th Avenue and Camelback Road.
Anna, who would have been 13 at the time her bones were discovered, was the oldest of the Loeras’ four adopted children. The Medical Examiner’s Office report estimated her age at the time she died as 10-12.
Her bones had multiple fractures at various stages of healing, according to the report, which is dated May 28, 2020. The examination was conducted in the days after her remains were found.
The Arizona Department of Child Safety first responded to the home a week before the fire after an 11-year-old girl called 911 and said she’d been left there alone for two days.
The officers found evidence of child abuse and took the girl, the only child at the residence that day, into custody.
During a follow-up visit less than an hour before the fire, DCS removed the other two kids, a 9-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl.
Rafael initially told investigators Anna had moved to Mexico, but he later said the girl died in July 2017 after becoming ill, according to police. Court records, however, list the date of all the crimes except arson as May 1, 2016.
Prosecutors said Rafael confessed to setting the fire in an effort to end his life and burn the house down.