A mom and her boyfriend were arrested Tuesday in the death of an 8-year-old boy whose body was discovered in an apartment where his siblings were abandoned, Texas cops say.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office initially said the boy was 9 years old, but they later determined he was 8 years old at the time of his death last year. The boy’s 15, 10 and 7-year-old siblings lived inside the home without any adult supervision while the 8-year-old boy’s decaying body laid unconcealed, the sheriff’s office said.
The mother of the children and her boyfriend were located Sunday night but were released by deputies after being questioned, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said. Later on Tuesday, the sheriff announced their arrests.
The 31-year-old boyfriend of the children’s mother was charged with murder, Gonzalez said. The mother, 35, was charged with injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence (human corpse), the sheriff said. Additional charges are expected to be filed.
They were caught at a public library, where KTRK reported they were reading news articles about themselves.
“Glad we have arrested the two responsible for the death of this innocent child, and the abuse of the other children,” Harris County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Edison Toquica said. “Houston, it’s a sad situation when individuals responsible for the welfare of innocent children are the ones that turn their back on them.”
The Harris County Medical Examiner ruled the 8-year-old boy’s death a homicide, saying he sustained multiple blunt force injuries, according to KPRC. The man is believed to have beat the boy to death before he and the mom moved out of the apartment, KTRK reported.
That left the three other children alone in the home and they were “fending for each other,” Gonzalez said, McClatchy News reported. He said the oldest of the siblings “was basically doing the best he could.”
A neighbor sensed something was wrong and said she began giving food to the 15-year-old about six months ago, KTRK reported.
“I didn’t want to push him away by asking questions because I knew he was starving and needed food,” she said.
The boys attended a local school district, but officials said they hadn’t been to class since May 2020, KHOU reported.
Gonzalez said the youngest two boys “appeared malnourished and showed signs of physical injuries.” All three were hospitalized for assessment and treatment.
The children are in foster care, according to KHOU.
Editor’s note: McClatchy News is omitting the names of the mother and her boyfriend to protect the identities of the children involved.