"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."
The children's mother, Gloria Williams, 35, and her boyfriend, Brian Coulter, 31, were arrested Tuesday in connection with the death of Williams' 8-year-old son, Kendrick Lee.
Coulter is charged with murder and remains jailed in a mental health facility on a $1 million bond. Williams is charged with injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence (human corpse). Her bond was set at $900,000.
The boy's skeletal remains were found in the west Harris County apartment where his three brothers, ages 15, 10 and 7, were found living alone.
“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 condition for anyone to live in,” Gonzalez said.
The children have since been taken into CPS care.
WARNING: Details of this story may be disturbing to some readers.
On Sunday, the sheriff's office responded to a call for help from a 15-year-old boy claiming his younger brother had been dead inside the home for almost a year.
When officers arrived at the home, investigators said the 10-year-old was suffering from an untreated jaw that had been injured weeks ago. He is scheduled to undergo surgery.
It's most likely he was injured by the boyfriend, officials said.
The teen said he found his brother dead inside the bedroom a week before Thanksgiving in 2020. The sheriff's office said the 8-year-old died from multiple blunt force trauma injuries.
In court, officials said the 10-year-old boy was in the room when Coulter allegedly beat his younger sibling to death, kicking and punching the child in the back and lower region. He then witnessed Coulter place a blue blanket over the now-deceased child, the court said.
The couple moved out sometime in March or February of this year. We're told their new apartment was about 25 minutes away.
Williams claims she confronted Coulter during the assault. She told investigators she didn't report her son's death because her boyfriend told her not to, according to court documents.
"I believe it was absolute fear," HCSO Lt. Dennis Wilford said 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 teen told investigators Coulter would lock him in the bedroom and he could hear his mother's boyfriend beating his younger siblings, officials said in court.
Wilford said it doesn't appear the mother participated in any of the physical abuse of the children. Coulter and Williams had been dating for several years, the lieutenant said.
"I would say they are both an abuser," Wilford said. "He's an abuser physically, and she's an abuser by omission."
The sheriff's office hasn't confirmed any blood relation between Coulter and the children. Gonzalez said two of the children have different fathers, one "who is out of the picture" and the other who investigators believe is deceased.
Gonzalez said there are two additional siblings who were not inside the apartment but are elsewhere.
Wilford said the surviving children were malnourished and "very thin." He said there was no furniture in the apartment that was infested with insects and the carpet was soiled. Investigators said the apartment was without power for months.
None of the children has been in school since May 2020.
"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."
Gonzalez said they believe the apartment was being paid for through government assistance. Investigators said the mother and some neighbors would occasionally bring the children food.
Investigation remains active and it's possible additional charges could be filed, according to Gonzalez.