MARYVALE, AZ (KTVK) — There are concerns about how a Maryvale couple now facing child abuse charges was allowed to adopt multiple kids. Last week investigators found a child’s remains in the home of Maribel and Rafael Loera.
According to court records, the couple had four children in their care, including their adoptive daughter Charisma Marquez, also known as Ana Loera. Documents say the girl has not been seen or heard from since 2017.
“What’s tragic is that the child welfare system is supposed to be there to save these kids,” says attorney Robert Pastor. Pastor is not involved in the Loera case, but as a prosecutor, he became familiar with the Department of Child Safety and is currently taking on the agency in a case involving a child in the system who was put at risk.
“What did [DCS] do to vet the Loeras to make sure they were capable and could care for these children and weren’t going to be abusive?” asked Pastor. He says families wishing to adopt must go through a foster process where DCS investigates the family and the household to make sure it is safe.
He says mistakes happen for a variety of reasons. “You’ve got this sort of perfect storm of inadequacies, lack of staff, lack of training, and lack of tools that allow these problems to occur,” said Pastor.
DCS says there were no foster children in the home when the Loeras were arrested last week but did not answer questions about adopted children in the home. While foster families are regularly visited by caseworkers, once a child is adopted, that oversight ends.
DCS also says there were no open investigations involving the Loeras. The agency would not say whether there were prior investigations.
The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office is working to identify the bones found in the Loera home.
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