Two people have been arrested after the remains of an eight-year-old boy were found alongside his three living siblings in an abandoned home.
On Sunday afternoon, a 15-year-old boy called police in Houston, Texas, and said his eight-year-old brother had been dead for a year and his remains were in the room next to his.
Police arrived at the home and found the teenager, along with his two other siblings, aged 10 and seven, and the remains of the eight-year-old in the apartment they were living in alone.
The mother of the three children, along with her boyfriend have now been arrested.
Gloria Williams, 35, and her boyfriend Brian Coulter, 31, were arrested on Tuesday evening (local time) at a local library, where they were searching news articles about themselves, ABC13 reported.
Williams has been charged with injury to a child by omission, along with tampering with evidence, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said in a statement.
Coulter has been charged with the boy's murder and additional charges are expected to be filed, while both Coulter and Williams are in custody.
ABC13 reported the eight-year-old's cause of death was homicide, caused by blunt force injuries and Sheriff Gonzalez said he had been dead since 2020.
In his initial statement regarding the discovery, the sheriff said the parents had not been to the apartment where the boys were found in "several months".
It is believed after the child was beaten to death, Coulter and Williams moved out of the apartment, leaving the three remaining children alone.
Police said the two younger children appeared to be malnourished and had physical injuries. All three surviving kids were taken to hospital to be assessed and treated.
"May the deceased child Rest In Peace. May the other children receive the love, healing, and support they need and deserve," Gonzalez said on Facebook.
Neighbours told ABC13 the 15-year-old boy would accept packaged snacks, fruit and pizza from the neighbours, but never cooked meals.
"I didn't want to push him away by asking questions because I knew he was starving and needed food," neighbour Erica Chapman said.
An unnamed neighbour told ABC affiliate KTRK she complained for months about a foul smell coming from the children’s home.
The woman said the stench was so bad she had turned off her air conditioner so it wouldn’t spread into her unit.
Neighbours expressed shock and disbelief when they learned about the children. Kayla Williams told the Houston Chronicle that she has two children, but she doesn’t plan to tell them what happened.
A TWISTED NIGHTMARE: 3 young boys were left abandoned and in squalid conditions, with their dead brother slowly decomposing for a year. I spoke with two neighbors who have been feeding the 15 y/o for 6 months. They never knew the secrets he had to live with. More @abc13houston pic.twitter.com/LhCsOkmhap
— Brooke Taylor (@ABC13Brooke) October 25, 2021
“I don’t need to put this in their heads,” she said. “This is crazy.”
The children were last enrolled in school in May 2020, ABC13 reported.
In a statement, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said it was seeking emergency custody of the 15-year-old and his two siblings “to ensure the safety of the children”.
The request for emergency custody was filed with a judge on Monday. The judge later granted the agency temporary custody of the children, the Associated Press reported.
“Child Protective Services does have history with the family, but there was no active CPS investigation at the time the children were discovered alone in their apartment,” the agency said.
With Associated Press
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