A Texas mother and her boyfriend were taken into custody after police learned that an abandoned 15-year-old boy had been living with the corpse of his 8-year-old brother while also trying to care for his two younger siblings, ages 7 and 10, for nearly a year. The teen, who called police on Sunday, said his brother had been dead in the room next to his at the family's apartment in Harris County. He also said his mom left months ago, leaving him alone with his brothers.

The 35-year-old mother, Gloria Y. Williams, is now charged with injury to a child by omission and failure to provide medical care, as well as failure to provide adequate supervision, 6ABC reports. Williams' boyfriend, 31-year-old Brian W. Coulter, is charged with murder in connection with the child's death. 

Doctors said the boys were malnourished with injuries. The 7-year-old was also seen with facial fractures when the children were rushed to the hospital.   

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the 8-year-old died sometime last year. The medical examiner's office determined that the manner of death was homicide, caused by multiple blunt force injuries. 

“Very horrific situation out here, very tragic,” Gonzalez said during a news conference, according to Click 2 Houston. “Been in this business a long time and I had never heard of a scenario like this. It really caught me by surprise.”

Neighbors said the oldest brother had been coming to them to ask for food during the past six months. Erica Chapman, one of the neighbors, said the boy didn't accept cooked meals, but he took packaged snacks, fruit and pizza. Trevor Thompson, another neighbor, said the 15-year-old only accepted certain foods because he was afraid of getting poisoned. 

"A few times I noticed the lights weren't on, and it was quiet upstairs, so I figured there was trouble because the parents haven't been there in a while," Thompson said. "One day, he came here and knocked on the door and asked if he could use the charger, and we built a bond from there. I started offering him food because I knew he needed more than just a charger."

The neighbors said they never called police because they didn't realize the magnitude of the situation in the house. 

While the children were left alone, Williams and Coulter were living in an apartment 15 minutes away, according to 6ABC. School district officials said they had filed truancy papers against the mother. The children were last enrolled in May 2020, according to the district.

"It was very easy for these kids to fall through the cracks," said Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of Children at Risk. "Texas has always relied on teachers to be that line of first defense for child abuse and these kids never got to that place where a teacher could identify what was going on with them, or begin an investigation, or alert CPS or others to what was happening."