Lac qui Parle County Sheriff Allen Anderson said his department received a court order from Maricopa County on Jan. 28, asking law enforcement and Family Services to find two children and place them into protective custody. The father of the children, Rafael Loera, was thought to have been living in Madison, Minnesota. Law enforcement was also asked to look into the possible whereabouts of another child.
Allen said his office was able to locate a residence for the individuals, on the 100 block of 2nd Street West, but no one was home when law enforcement arrived with a search warrant.
“We had learned they had left and hadn’t been seen in a couple of days,” Anderson said.
Anderson received word later in the day that the two children in question, ages 9 and 4, had been found at a home in Phoenix and taken into protective custody. An older child, 11 years old, had been removed from the home about a week earlier.
According to Phoenix media reports, an hour after the two children were taken into protective custody, a fire was reported at the Phoenix home. As firefighters worked to extinguish the flames, human skeletal remains were found. Whether they are the remains of a child or adult has not been confirmed.
Both Rafael and Maribel Loera were arrested at the home. The Phoenix Police Department said Rafael Loera is currently facing charges related to concealing human body parts, endangerment, child abuse and arson. Maribel Loera is facing child abuse charges.
Anderson said the Lac qui Parle County Sheriff’s Office will continue to assist Maricopa County gather data and information on the case.
“We will obviously work with them,” Anderson said.
Anderson is also asking any member of the public who might have seen anything suspicious to contact law enforcement. He would rather be safe than sorry.
“We can follow up on it,” Anderson said.