A woman and her boyfriend were arrested on Tuesday in the death of the woman’s 8-year-old son, ifwith three surviving but apparently abandoned siblings, officials said.
Brian W. Coulter, the 31-year-old girlfriend of the dead child’s mother, was charged Tuesday with murder. The mother, Gloria Y. Williams, 35, was charged with grievous bodily harm to a child by omission and tampering with evidence (human corpse), Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted Tuesday night.
Coulter is accused of killing the boy last year, CBS Houston affiliate KHOU-TV reports. They were initially questioned Sunday night and released, the station added.
Both were booked into Harris County Jail without binding pending appearances before a judge. It was not immediately clear if the two had lawyers. Gonzalez said more charges are possible.
The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences in Houston, which performs all autopsies in the county, listed the primary cause of death as “homicide with multiple blunt injuries.”
Michele Arnold, a spokeswoman for the institute, said her agency could not provide further details.
Deputy Thomas Gilliland, a spokesman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, also said he could not immediately provide more information because his agency was still investigating the death.
One of the surviving siblings, a 15-year-old, called the sheriff’s department on Sunday and told authorities his brother had been dead for a year and the body was inside the apartment, according to law enforcement.
Deputies found the teenager and two other siblings, ages 10 and 7, living alone in the apartment, Gonzalez said. The 15-year-old told authorities his parents had not lived in the apartment for several months.
Gonzalez said it appeared the surviving children were “guarding each other” while the eldest sibling took care of the two younger ones.
The younger children appeared to be malnourished and had physical injuries, according to the sheriff’s office. All three siblings were rushed to the hospital and assessed and treated.
A judge on Monday granted Texas Department of Family and Protective Services temporary custody of the three children.
Children’s life situation put in focus
Their apartment had no power, Gilliland said.
Neighbors told KHOU they were shocked to hear that the children lived alone. They said they knew the 15-year-old lived there, but thought he lived there alone.
“There is no excuse for this. No one at all,” Erica Chapman remarked to KHOU. “When the inspection came … was it the only apartment you did not inspect? What did they know? They never went into that apartment?”
Investigators were still trying to determine why no one with the apartment complex had noticed anything unusual, Gilliland said.
Highmark Residential, the property management firm that operates the complex, did not immediately call back to seek comment Tuesday.
Chapman told KHOU she had helped the boy.
“He was sleeping on the roller coaster and I asked him if he was hungry. I brought him some food and drinks,” she said. “I woke him up. He should eat and then go home.”
Chapman said she would sometimes drop off food in the apartment, but it was hard to say what was going on inside.
Another neighbor said the 15-year-old boy would charge his phone in her apartment.
The children last went to school in May, said Craig Eichhorn, a spokesman for Alief’s school district. They did not return for the 2020-2021 school year, and school officials attempted a failed home visit in September 2020, Eichhorn said.
The district said it tried several times to contact the mother but could not, KHOU reported, and the district said the mother had two prank cases against her involving two of the boys, one from 2019 and the other from last year. Toddler cases were not enforced by Harris County DA’s office during the pandemic.