Harris County, TX – The mother of three children who were found abandoned in an apartment living alongside the long-decomposing body of their nine-year-old brother was released without charges after being interviewed by police over the weekend.
The gruesome scene was discovered after a 15-year-old boy called 911 on Sunday to report his parents had taken off several months earlier, leaving him and his 10-year-old and seven-year-old siblings living with the dead body of their nine-year-old brother, KABC reported.
The teen said the little boy had been deceased inside the apartment for about a year.
Harris County deputies responded to the apartment complex, which is located in the 3535-block of Green Crest near Westpark Tollway and Addicks Clodine, and located the three children, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted that afternoon.
“Skeletal remains, possibly of another juvenile, were also found inside the unit,” Sheriff Gonzalez confirmed.
Deputies said the surviving children appeared to be malnourished and had physical injuries, according to WLS.
They were all transported to a hospital for treatment, KABC reported.
Doctors determined the seven-year-old boy had facial fractures, according to KTRK.
Sheriff Gonzalez described the conditions inside the apartment as “horrific” and said the children had been abandoned for quite a while, KTRK reported.
“I have been in this business a long time, and never saw anything like this,” the sheriff said.
Investigators said the remains of the deceased child were not concealed and were lying out in the open, KABC reported.
“It appears the skeletal remains had been there for an extended period of time, and I emphasize ‘extended’” Sheriff Gonzalez said, according to WLS. “Connecting all the dots, it seems they were in there while the body was deteriorating.”
A next-door neighbor who moved into the complex approximately 18 months ago said a foul odor started wafting over from the apartment where the children were found about four or five months after she moved in, KABC reported.
She claimed the smell was so horrendous, she ended up turning off her air conditioner to try to stop the odor from infiltrating her home.
The woman said she complained to the front office about the smell multiple times and noted she believed the apartment was abandoned.
Another neighbor said she had been giving the 15-year-old food for about the past six months, KTRK reported.
She said the children’s mother would sometimes show up outside in a vehicle with food.
“She would come and park, and he would run down and grab noodles, drinks and chips and run back up,” the neighbor said.
The children did not have any electricity in the apartment for at least the past couple of weeks, according to The Washington Post.
The three surviving children are now in the custody of the Department of Family and Protective Services (CPS).
“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,” CPS said in a press release.
Harris County deputies located the children’s mother and her boyfriend late Sunday night and took them in for questioning, KABC reported.
Both were released by 10 a.m. on Monday.
“There are no new developments this morning regarding the scene on Green Crest,” Sheriff Gonzalez tweeted in an update. “Mother and her boyfriend were located, interviewed and released. CPS is assisting with the children. Our investigation remains on-going. No charges have been filed.”
Investigators said they are waiting for the results of an autopsy before filing any potential charges, KTRK reported.
According to the local school district, the children were last enrolled in May of 2020, according to the news outlet.
Neighbors said personnel at the complex had been conducting inspections over the past month, but site managers refused to answer KTRK’s questions about when the apartment the children were found living in was last inspected.