A mother and her boyfriend have been formally charged after police discovered three children abandoned in a Houston apartment along with the remains of another child.
The mother's boyfriend, Brian W. Coulter, 31, was charged with murder in the death of the 8-year-old who police say died sometime in 2020 and whose remains were discovered inside a bedroom closet in the apartment.
The children's mother, Gloria Williams. 35, was charged with injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence involving a human corpse, Houston County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez announced.
"I had never heard of a scenario like this. It really caught me by surprise," Gonzalez said Sunday (October 24).
The Harris County coroner determined that the child died by homicide after suffering multiple blunt force injuries, according to reports. The cause of the child's death remains under investigation.
The sheriff's office said in a news release that the 15-year-old called police and told them his 9-year-old brother had been dead for a year and that his body was in the room next to his.
The teen reportedly told authorities that his parents hadn't lived in the apartment for months. Police found no power on at the apartment when they arrived.
"It seems that they were in there while the body was deteriorating," Gonzalez said. According to investigators' findings, the child's body hadn't been concealed in the time they'd been abandoned.
"It appears the remains had been there for an extended period of time, and I emphasized extended," Gonzalez said, adding that the 15-year-old was doing his best to take care of his younger siblings, stating that "they were basically fending for each other," the sheriff said, adding that the siblings were living in "pretty deplorable conditions."
The children's grandmother, Linda Smith, told the Houston Chronicle that she hadn't seen the boys since 2016 when she and Williams got into a dispute and was forced out of Smith's home in South Houston.
"I feel like I failed them," Smith told the newspaper. "She could have brought them to my house –– she knows I would have taken them in."
All of the children were taken the hospital for medical treatment. The younger of the kids appeared to be malnourished and had physical injuries.
The Houston DA has vowed "to get to the bottom of what these children have endured."
"Our specialized prosecutors continue to work with the sheriff's deputies, as this horror is thoroughly investigated," a spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney's Office wrote to CNN.
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