“The apartment was in a horrible condition. We saw soiled carpet, no furniture at all. No bedding, no blankets that we could see. We saw roaches and flies and very bad conditions for anyone to live in,” said at a press conference Wednesday.
The boy’s mother, Gloria Williams, was arrested Tuesday and charged with injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence (human corpse). Her boyfriend, Brian Coulter, was charged with murder and is jailed in a mental health facility on a $1 million bond.
“There aren’t many jobs in our agency that are tougher than those involving abused children,” Gonzalez said. “These cases are horrific, heartbreaking cases of abuse and neglect. And they involve the most innocent and defenseless among our community.”
Harris County authorities responded to a call on Sunday after a 15-year-old boy told officials that his 8-year-old brother, Kendrick Lee, had been dead for a year in the apartment. The teenager told the sheriff’s office that the body was in the apartment he shared with two younger brothers.
Deputies arrived at the apartment Sunday and found the teenager living alone with his two younger brothers, ages 7 and 10, and the corpse of the 8-year-old. The cause of death was ruled “homicidal violence with multiple blunt force injuries.”
The teenager told police that he found his brother’s body in the apartment a week before Thanksgiving last year. Officials said in court that the 10-year-old sibling was in the room when Coulter allegedly beat the 8-year-old to death, kicking and punching him in the back and lower on his body. The sibling then saw Coulter allegedly cover the 8-year-old’s body with a blue blanket, KHOU reported.
The boys’ mother said she confronted Coulter during the attack and didn’t report the violence and death to police because Coulter told her not to. Officials believe the couple moved out of the apartment soon after the death.
“I believe it was absolute fear,” HCSO Lt. Dennis Wilford told KHOU when asked why the teen didn’t call 911 sooner. “Over time, I believe that the beatings were consistent, mainly directed at the younger children, and the 15-year-old was absolutely afraid, basically, hoping and relying on his mother to at some point to contact law enforcement…and that didn’t happen.”
The Sheriff’s office has not confirmed any blood relation between Coulter and the children. Gonzalez said that two of the boys have different fathers, with one “who is out of the picture” and another who they believe is dead. There are two additional siblings who did not live in the apartment, according to authorities.
The three boys who were living in the apartment were malnourished, and the 10-year-old is suffering with a jaw injury from weeks ago. He is scheduled for surgery and police believe Coulter is responsible for the injury.
Neighbors of the boys recounted to local media this week that they had no idea what was happening in the apartment, and that the 15-year-old relied on them for food. The neighbors added that they never saw the teenager’s younger siblings, and believe the 15-year-old kept them a secret out of fear.
(Harris County Sheriff’s Office)
“After finding out what happened [Sunday], I think he was more nervous and scared,” neighbor Erica Chapman said earlier this week of the teenager. “(He might be thinking) ‘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.”
Officials also backed up the neighbor’s comments.
“I do not believe that the two young boys were ever allowed to leave that apartment,” Wilford said. “It’s possible they were locked in, possibly different parts of the apartment.”
Williams and Coulter were living in a different apartment about 25 minutes away, KHOU reported.
The investigation is ongoing and it’s possible more charges will be filed.
The children are currently in Child Protective Services’ custody.