The three neglected children who were found abandoned in squalid conditions in a Houston home alongside the skeletal remains of their nine-year-old brother who had been dead for more than a year managed to survive thanks to help from a neighbor.
The children’s mother and her boyfriend were questioned and released by law enforcement officials. Child welfare services in Texas have also launched an investigation.
The mother and her boyfriend left the children alone for several months, according to law enforcement officials. Occasionally, the mother would return to bring the kids food.
The three children were taken to a hospital for treatment. An autopsy is being conducted on the fourth child to determine a cause of death.
An unidentified Good Samaritan who lived in a nearby apartment complex in Houston brought the three children food and charged their phones after the electricity was cut in their house, the Harris County Sheriff’s Department told The Daily Beast.
But another neighbor wondered why the person who brought them food didn’t alert authorities beforehand regarding the neglect that the children were experiencing as well as the rotting corpse inside the home.
‘If an adult was bringing them food to eat, they must have seen that child,’ a local resident said.
Harris County Sheriff’s Department officers are seen above at a Houston apartment complex on Sunday afternoon where three children were found in a neglected state
Investigators also found the decomposed body of a nine-year-old boy inside the apartment
Law enforcement officials said that the three children were given food by an unidentified neighbor
Law enforcement officials said that the neighbor was helping the three children – ages 7, 10, and 15 – for at least the last two weeks.
According to investigators, the 15-year-old said that the parents hadn’t been living at home for weeks, effectively abandoning the children to be on their own.
When police arrived to the home on Sunday afternoon, they found the brother’s skeletal remains out in the open, KPRC-TV reported.
The two younger boys appeared to be malnourished and ‘showed signs of physical injury,’ according to law enforcement officials.
‘It appears they were basically fending for each other,’ Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told reporters.
‘The older sibling was doing the best he could to take care of the others.’
In an update late Sunday, Gonzalez revealed that the children’s mother and her boyfriend have been located and interviewed by homicide detectives.
On Monday, the sheriff announced that the couple was released without being arrested or charged with any crime. No explanation was provided for the decision to let the pair go at this time.
In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office wrote in an email to DailyMail.com: ‘This is an active investigation, with charges pending.’
Authorities have not said whether or not they were looking for the children’s biological father.
‘Connecting all the dots, it seems they were in there while the body was deteriorating,’ the sheriff said.
HCSO is now investigating to determine the circumstances that led to the death of the minor and how long the kids had been alone.
The unidentified resident who brought the children food lived in the CityParc II residential complex, which is located about 20 miles from downtown Houston.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said a unit was sent to do a welfare check at the residence after receiving a call. The body was not concealed
Residents there expressed shock at the fact that nobody noticed just how bad the situation was inside the home.
‘If an adult was bringing them food to eat, they must have seen that child,’ one resident of the complex told The Daily Beast.
Residents of the area said that management had been doing inspection rounds in the area for the last couple of weeks.
A neighbor living next door to the siblings told KTRK she had no idea there was anyone occupying that unit, let alone children.
The neighbor in the apartment complex told the station KTRK that she complained for months about a foul odor emanating from the unit where the shocking discovery was made over the weekend.
She said that 13 or 14 months ago, she first noticed a vile odor wafting from what she thought was an abandoned apartment.
The smell was so bad, the woman said, that she would be forced to turn off her air conditioning to prevent it from entering her apartment through the vents.
The neighbor said she complained several times to the building’s management about the smell, but it is unclear if anyone had gone to the unit housing the siblings to inspect it.
Other residents wondered if the children attended school and, if so, why a teacher or administrator didn’t notice anything unusual.
The children had seemingly been left abandoned by adults for a long period of time and were ‘fending for each other’
Homicide investigators along with CPS and Child Abuse investigators are also working on the case
The Alief Independent School District, which is the district that covers the geographical area in question, said it could not confirm whether the children attend one of its schools because they have not been identified as of yet.
‘To ensure the safety of the children, the Department of Family and Protective Services is seeking emergency custody of the three boys,’ the agency said in a statement on Monday.
‘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.’
Police said the investigation is still in the preliminary stages .
‘Very horrific situation here, very tragic. I’ve been in this business for a long time and I’ve never heard of a scenario like this, it really caught me by surprise,’ said Gonzalez when addressing the media on Sunday evening.
‘We are trying to identify next of kin to determine exactly what happened and how we got to this point…We’re going to make sure we conduct a thorough follow-up investigation,’ he added.