HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — The mother of three children found abandoned in a Houston-area apartment has been arrested and her boyfriend has been charged with murder in the death of a fourth child, according to Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
The 8-year-old victim, whose skeletal remains were found in an apartment with his three brothers, was ruled a homicide with blunt force injuries, the medical examiner's office said Tuesday.
The boyfriend, 31-year-old Brian Coulter, is accused of killing the boy in 2020, according to Gonzalez.
On Wednesday, a judge set Coulter's bond at $1 million, and he is currently being held at a mental health facility.
If bonded out, Coulter can't have any contact with the children or their mother, 35-year-old Gloria Williams. He must also wear a GPS monitor, will be kept under a 24-hour curfew and can't leave Harris County.
Williams is also in custody and charged with injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence (human corpse). She is expected to appear in court Wednesday morning.
Gonzalez initially said she was charged with failure to provide medical care and failure to provide adequate supervision, but later revised the charges. The sheriff said there could be additional charges.
They were originally questioned Sunday night and released. The charges were filed Tuesday after the autopsy determined it was a homicide.
No school recently
We learned Tuesday that the boys, ages 15, 10 and 7, attended Alief ISD schools but the district said they haven't seen them since May of 2020.
The school district says they made several attempts to contact the mother and even visited the apartment in September of 2020 but were not successful.
The school district says the mother had two truancy cases for two boys. One was for 2019 and the other for 2020.
Truancy cases weren't enforced by the Harris County DA’s office during the pandemic.
Cry for help
This horrific story came to light Sunday when the 15-year-old called police and told them he and his brothers have been living in the apartment by themselves for months with skeletal remains in another room.
When deputies arrived, they found remains that appeared consistent with the age provided by the 15-year-old.
They said the two youngest boys appeared to be malnourished with signs of physical injury, according to investigators.
Neighbors said they were shocked to find out the children lived in the apartment 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 said. "When inspections came ... that was the only apartment you didn't inspect? What did they know? They never went into that apartment?"
Chapman said she helped the boy in the past.
"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.
Children in foster care
The three boys are in foster care, according to Children's Protective Services. The agency is seeking emergency custody and the boys are currently in foster care.
CPS confirmed there was no active CPS investigation at the time the children were found.
Below is the statement CPS released to KHOU 11 News:
"To ensure the safety of the children, the Department of Family and Protective Services is seeking emergency custody of the three boys. Child Protective Services does have history with the family, but there was no active CPS investigation at the time the children were discovered alone in their apartment."