Sheriff: Abandoned kids lived in ‘unspeakable’ conditions after brother killed by mother’s boyfriend

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Sheriff Ed Gonzalez on Wednesday described the “unspeakable living conditions” three Harris County brothers were found to be living in on Sunday after a 15-year-old called authorities to report that his brother had been dead for a year in the apartment.

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Authorities on Tuesday arrested the boys’ mother, 35-year-old Gloria Williams, on charges of injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence. Williams’ boyfriend, 31-year-old Brian Coulter, was charged with the murder of the boy found dead on Sunday.

On Wednesday, Gonzalez said the investigation remained active and that Williams and Coulter could face additional charges.

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Deputies found the dry, skeletal remains of Williams’ 8-year-old son after his 15-year-old brother called authorities. The boy was believed to have been killed in November and left in the apartment as his body decomposed. His older brother told investigators that he had been living in the west Harris County apartment with his 10-year-old and 7-year-old brothers and without any adults for months. Authorities believe Williams and Coulter moved out of the apartment five to six months after the 8-year-old child died. The couple lived about 25 minutes away, officials said.

“The 15-year-old was just absolutely afraid and was basically hoping or relying on his mother to at some point contact law enforcement and advise of his deceased brother in the house,” Sgt. Dennis Wollford, supervisor of the homicide unit investigating the case, said Wednesday. “That didn’t happen, and I think after a year’s time the 15-year-old boy finally said, ‘Enough is enough,’ and that’s when he decided to contact law enforcement.”

Gonzalez said the boys appeared to have been badly traumatized by what they experienced. All three were malnourished, and one of the younger boys had an injury to his jaw that the sheriff said would require surgery.

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“We’ve come to believe (the injury) was caused … by the boyfriend, Brian Coulter, several weeks ago,” Wollford said, noting that the children appeared to have some contact with the suspects. Gonzalez said it appeared as though the boy had never gotten medical attention or even painkillers to help deal with his injury.

At least two of the abandoned boys appeared to be on the autism spectrum, the sheriff said. The younger boys were not allowed to leave the apartment, which was in a deplorable condition, investigators said.

“We saw soiled carpet, no furniture – no furniture at all: no bedding, no blankets, nothing like that that we could see,” Gonzalez said at a news conference. Authorities also found roaches and flies in the apartment. “It was very bad conditions for anyone, especially for children to live in.”

Neighbors helped feed the children, but none appeared to realize the situation they had been left in. Investigators believe Williams also provided the children with food on a “fairly routine basis,” though he said most of it was junk food like noodles, chips and soft drinks.

Wolfford described the children as “very sweet” and added that they appeared to be “younger than their chronological age.”

“From the very beginning, (with) everything (investigators) asked them, they were just straightforward, but at the same time … you just had that thousand-yard stare, that blankness in the eyes,” he said. “They were as sweet as they can be. It was very sad, but you know, they are good children.”

The children have since been placed in the care of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, officials said. Authorities said they had two fathers, one of whom is believed to have died and another who was not involved in the care of the children.

“My prayer is that the remaining children find the love, support and protection that they so desperately need and deserve and that they have been missing for so long,” Gonzalez said Wednesday. “I hope that their future is better than their past.”