Neighbors in an apartment complex where three children were found abandoned with the decaying corpse of their brother have shared more about the shocking situation.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, a 15-year-old boy in Harris County, Texas, called police on Sunday and said that his 9-year-old brother was dead in his home — and had been for about a year. Responding officers found the teen, his dead brother, and two younger brothers who were malnourished in the apartment unit.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said at a press conference that the children had been abandoned “for an extended period of time.”
“And I emphasize extended,” Gonzalez said.
Authorities located the children’s mother, questioned her and her boyfriend, and released them both without charges on Monday. On Tuesday, authorities announced that an autopsy had determined that the 9-year-old boy died of homicidal violence, and had numerous blunt force injuries.
The children and their mother have not yet been identified, and it is unclear if any of the family members are suspects in the boy’s death.
According to ABC 13, the children’s mother lived only 15 minutes away from her boys, who appear to have been severely neglected. Two neighbors told the news station that they did not know any other children were in the unit besides the 15-year-old boy, who appeared to have come out of the apartment to seek food and help from neighbors.
Erica Chapman said she began giving the teen boy food about six months ago, noticing that there were rarely adults at the home.
“The first time I saw him, he was sleeping on one of the slides,” Chapman told the news station, adding that the boy was particular about the type of food he would accept, and refused cooked meals.
Trevor Thompson also gave the teen boy food, according to the report. Thompson told the news station that the teen was afraid of being poisoned. But he did once accept a pizza from Thompson, which is how the neighbor first suspected there were other children in the home.
“I asked, ‘Did you like the pizza?’ And he asked, ‘What? The first pizza we had?'” Thompson said. “That made me wonder why would he say, ‘We.'”
Both neighbors told the news station that they did not understand the extent of the problem, and said the teen said very little to help them understand what was going on in the home. Chapman told the news station that she believes the elder brother was trying to protect his siblings by keeping them out of view.
“After finding out what happened [Sunday], I think he was more nervous and scared,” Chapman said. “Are they going to blame me for this? Are my parents going to punish me for this? Maybe his parents told him they would be separated if he told anyone.”
The three surviving boys are in the custody of Child Protective Services.
CrimeOnline will provide further updates when more information is available.
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