Two Arizona parents were arrested Tuesday after a fire at their Phoenix home resulted in the discovery of human skeletal remains. According to a CNN report, the couple identified as 56-year-old Rafael Loera and 50-year-old Maribel Loera face charges of child abuse after authorities earlier rescued three children in their custody.
With the new discovery, the couple now faces additional charges. They have been accused of allegedly concealing human body parts, the report said.
According to authorities, several children were removed from Rafael and Maribel’s custody earlier this month after an 11-year-old girl living with them called the Phoenix Police Department on January 20 and informed them that she was left alone in the house.
The phone call by the child resulted in a welfare check, and authorities reportedly found evidence that pointed toward possible child abuse. The girl was later placed in the care of the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS), which has, in the past, rescued children from potential abuse.
DCS authorities later found that the house also had two other younger kids — one aged 4 and the other aged 9. After securing a court order authorizing them to rescue the two kids, they removed the children from the custody of Rafael and Maribel.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Phoenix Police spokeswoman Sgt. Maggie Cox confirmed that all three children are safe.
Breaking: Human skeletal remains found inside a home after a fire yesterday near 59th Ave & Camelback. Homicide investigators at the scene. PIO on scene with media update in the next hour. pic.twitter.com/9Kr7nhPPOR
— Phoenix Police Department (@phoenixpolice) January 29, 2020
Hours after the children were rescued, authorities were again called to the house after a neighbor noticed smoke coming out of a room.
The Phoenix Fire Department reached the area and were able to quickly extinguish the fire. During routine combing, the fire department officials were startled when they came across human skeletal remains inside the house. The Phoenix Police Department was called in again, and an investigation was launched.
Later, police arrested the couple in connection with the case, and both of them were sent to the Maricopa County Jail on a $200,000 bond. Rafael and Maribel are scheduled to appear in court on February 5. It remains unclear if the couple has access to attorneys.
According to 12 News, neighbors from the area were not aware of the fact that the couple lived with three children. They are also disgusted by the allegations.
“We know violence, we know all of this but it’s never been this close, it’s never been this bad,” a neighbor was quoted saying.
Meanwhile, efforts are on to identify the remains. Initial findings have been inconclusive, and officials are unsure if the remains belong to a child or an adult.