'Heartbreaking' Find After Teen Places Call to Texas Cops

Abandoned boy, 2 younger brothers were living with remains of what may have been other sibling: sheriff
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2021 10:55 AM CDT
Children Found Living With Skeletal Remains in Texas
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/carlballou)

(Newser) – A teen's desperate call to law enforcement over the weekend led to a horrific find in a Texas apartment. That call came in to the Harris County Sheriff's Office on Sunday, per a statement from the agency, with the 15-year-old boy on the other end making a grim report: The body of his 9-year-old brother was in the room next to his own, and had been for about a year, per NBC News. The teen told investigators that their parents hadn't lived in the place for "several months," according to the statement.

Deputies say what they encountered when they arrived at the third-floor apartment west of Houston was, sadly, as the boy had described. They discovered the teen and two other boys, ages 10 and 7, as well as skeletal remains "of a small child," Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tells the Houston Chronicle. "Heartbreaking," Gonzalez tweeted of the apparently abandoned children and deceased child, noting to the Chronicle that the latter's remains had been there for an "extended" period of time. "And I emphasize extended," he says.

Officials say the three boys had signs of physical injuries and seemed malnourished; they were brought to a hospital for treatment. "They were in there while the body was deteriorating," Gonzalez says, adding that the brothers "were fending for each other. ... The 15-year-old was taking care" of his siblings. The sheriff, who says the boys may have been on their own for up to a year, noted online that the mother of the children and her boyfriend were tracked down late Sunday night and are being questioned.

The three children, meanwhile, are in the custody of Child Protective Services while the investigation continues. It's not clear if they'd been going to school. A medical examiner will determine the cause of death for the deceased child, per KHOU 11. A neighbor in the apartment complex tells the Chronicle that she doesn't know how the boys could've fallen through the cracks for so long, as the building manager regularly makes the rounds to inspect plumbing, smoke detectors, and other issues. "How come they couldn't detect this?" she says. "How could that not have been found?" (Read more Harris County stories.)

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