A woman and her boyfriend were arrested Tuesday in the death of the woman’s 8-year-old son, whosewith three surviving but apparently abandoned siblings, officials said.
Brian W. Coulter, the 31-year-old boyfriend of the dead child’s mother, was charged Tuesday with murder. The mother, Gloria Y. Williams, 35, was charged with felony injury 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, reports CBS Houston affiliate KHOU-TV. They were originally questioned Sunday night and released, the station added.
Both were booked into the Harris County Jail without bond pending appearances before a magistrate. It wasn’t immediately clear if the two had attorneys. Gonzalez said more charges are possible.
The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences in Houston, which conducts all autopsies in the county, listed the primary cause of death as “homicidal violence with multiple blunt force injuries.”
Michele Arnold, a spokeswoman for the institute, said her agency couldn’t provide additional details.
Deputy Thomas Gilliland, a spokesman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, also said he couldn’t immediately provide any more information because his agency was still investigating the death.
One of the surviving siblings, a 15-year-old, called the sheriff’s department Sunday and told authorities his brother had been dead for a year and the body was inside the apartment, according to the law enforcement agency.
Deputies found the teen and two other siblings, ages 10 and 7, living alone in the apartment, Gonzalez said. The 15-year-old told authorities his parents hadn’t lived in the apartment for several months.
Gonzalez said it appeared that the surviving children were “fending for each other,” with the oldest sibling caring for the younger two.
The younger children appeared to be malnourished and had physical injuries, according to the sheriff’s office. All three siblings were taken to a hospital and assessed and treated.
A judge on Monday granted the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services temporary custody of the three children.
Kids’ living situation spotlighted
Their apartment didn’t have any power, Gilliland said.
Neighbors told KHOU they were shocked to learn the children were living alone. They said they knew the 15-year-old lived there but thought he lived there alone.
“There is no excuse for this. None at all,” Erica Chapman remarked to KHOU. “When inspections came … that was the only apartment you didn’t 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 company that runs the complex, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on Tuesday.
Chapman told KHOU she’d helped the boy.
“He was sleeping on the slide and I asked him if he was hungry. I brought him some food and drinks,” she said. “I woke him up. He was going to eat then go back home.”
Chapman said she would drop food off at the apartment sometimes, but it was hard to tell what was going on inside.
Another neighbor said the 15-year-old boy would charge his phone at her apartment.
The children last attended school in May, said Craig Eichhorn, a spokesman for the Alief school district. They didn’t return for the 2020-2021 school year, and school officials attempted an unsuccessful home visit in September 2020, Eichhorn said.
The district said it tried several times to contact the mother but couldn’t, KHOU reported, and the district said the mother had two truancy cases against her involving two of the boys, one from 2019 and the other from last year. Truancy cases weren’t enforced by the Harris County DA’s office during the pandemic.