The child whose bone remains were found in a Houston-area apartment with three abandoned siblings on Sunday died violently around Thanksgiving last year, authorities said on Wednesday.
The dead boy was 8 years old when he was killed as a result of alleged physical abuse by his mother’s boyfriend Brian Coulter, who was charged with murder, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez, at a press conference on Wednesday, said the scene seen inside the third-floor apartment where the boy’s skeletal remains were found and where three siblings, ages 7 to 15, lived years old, was full of cockroaches, flies, soiled carpet and was unfurnished.
The older boy contacted authorities and led them to a crime scene that rocked even the most seasoned investigators due to circumstances “too gruesome to be real,” Gonzalez said.
“Amidst the darkness and this horrible situation, I am so happy that this 15-year-old has finally asked for help,” Gonzalez said. “I’m glad he found help on the other line with one of our operators. And I’m comforted to know that when he opened the door, and there was a Assistant to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office there, they could finally get the care and protection they’ve needed for so long. ”
The mother of the deceased boy and her boyfriend were charged Tuesday in the death of the child whose skeletal remains were found earlier this week, the sheriff’s office said.
Authorities said on Tuesday that the death of the child, whose remains were discovered, was homicide.
Coulter, 31, faces a murder charge and the boy’s mother, Gloria Williams, 35, faces charges of injuring a child through omission and tampering with evidence, Gonzalez tweeted Tuesday night in an update.
Both are in custody and it was not immediately clear whether they had a lawyer. Gonzalez said on Wednesday the case was still under investigation and other charges could be laid.
The child died from a homicide with multiple blunt injuries, according to the county medical examiner’s office, the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences. A spokeswoman for the office said Tuesday afternoon that medical staff had not definitively identified the remains.
Williams and Coulter, who had been a couple for more than a year, moved out of the apartment and lived apart from the children, at least two of whom were said to have had autism and were described as having special needs, said on Wednesday. officials.
“Common sense would tell you they are stepping away from a dead child,” said Sgt. Dennis Wolford, who oversees the homicide unit in the sheriff’s office, explains why the couple are said to have abandoned the children. “By the time they moved, you’re probably talking about five or six months after death. They know all the time there’s a corpse in this apartment.”
Wolford said on Sunday the middle child in the apartment had a visible jaw injury that investigators believe Coulter caused. The child needed surgery, Wolford said.
Wolford said Coulter was physically abusive towards children, while Williams was an “abuser by omission”. Officials said Wednesday there was no evidence Williams was abused by her boyfriend.
NBC’s subsidiary KPRC in Houston announced Coulter’s bail was set at $ 1 million in a hearing Wednesday morning. If he posts bail, Coulter must wear a GPS ankle monitor under house arrest until his next court appearance. Williams’ bond was set at $ 25,000, the outlet reported.
When the teenage brother called the sheriff’s office on Sunday, he said his 9-year-old brother had been dead in the apartment for a year, the sheriff’s office said. The boys appeared to be malnourished, showed signs of physical injury and were taken to hospital, officials said.
Gonzalez called the situation “heartbreaking”.
The children last attended school in May 2020, said Craig Eichhorn, spokesperson for the Alief School District. They did not return for the 2020-2021 school year and school officials attempted an unsuccessful home visit in September 2020, Eichhorn said.
A judge on Monday granted the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services temporary custody of the three children.
Melissa Lanford, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said in a statement Tuesday that the department “is looking for and obtained emergency custody” of the three boys found abandoned in the apartment.
“Child welfare services have a history with the family, but there was no active CPS investigation at the time the children were discovered alone in their apartment,” Lanford said.
Lanford said in an email Wednesday morning that the children were safe in CPS custody. She cited the ongoing criminal investigation when she declined further comment.
The Associated Press contributed.