Authorities in Texas found three children living alone in an apartment with the skeletal remains of one of their siblings. Police performed a welfare check after a 15-year-old boy called 911 and said his nine-year-old brother had died last year and his body was still in the home.
Investigators learned that the children's mother and her boyfriend abandoned the kids up to a year ago, and the 15-year-old told police that their parents hadn't lived with them for several months.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said that the 15-year-old was the sole caretaker for his younger siblings, ages 10 and seven. It is unknown if the three boys were attending school.
"I haven't been told they were necessarily locked in, but at that age, it appears they were basically fending for each other," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said that investigators tracked down the boys' mother and her boyfriend on Sunday (October 24) night, and they were being interviewed by homicide detectives.
Dianne Davis, who has lived in the apartment complex for two years, told the Houston Chronicle that she was shocked that the boy's body was not discovered sooner because the building manager conducts routine inspections. The most recent inspections occurred last week.
"How come they couldn't detect this?" Davis wondered. "How could that not have been found?"
The children were malnourished and had undisclosed physical injuries. They were taken to the hospital for an evaluation and treatment. They are in the custody of Child Protective Services.
"Child Protective Services is currently investigating alongside law enforcement to ensure the immediate safety of the children. The children are being evaluated at an area hospital, and the Department of Family and Protective Services is seeking emergency custody of all three boys," CPS said in a statement.