HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A nine-year-old found dead inside a southwest Harris County apartment may have been dead up to a year, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office.
Harris County deputies responded to a gruesome scene Sunday where skeletal remains were found and three children were left abandoned.
According to Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, investigators responded to an apartment complex in the 3535 block of Green Crest near Addicks Clodine and Westpark Tollway on Sunday afternoon.
The sheriff's office says they received a call from a 15-year-old claiming that his 9-year-old brother had been dead for a year in the apartment he shared with his siblings.
The teenage boy also told 911 dispatchers that his parents had not lived in the apartment with him and his two living siblings for several months.
When deputies arrived, they found skeletal remains consistent with what that teenage boy told dispatchers.
Authorities also said they found all three boys in the apartment, the teenager and his two brothers. They appeared to have been abandoned inside.
Late Sunday night, the sheriff's office said the mother of the children and her boyfriend had been found and were being interviewed by law enforcement.
The children showed signs of malnourishment and were taken to the hospital to be treated.
During a news briefing Sunday afternoon, Gonzalez called the situation "horrific" after he saw how the children, ages 15, 10 and 7 had been living.
"I have been in this business a long time, and never saw anything like this," Gonzalez said.
The eldest child appeared to have been the caretaker of the other kids for an extended period of time.
The 9-year-old's remains were reportedly out in the apartment, not concealed or hidden.
"[We're] Connecting all the dots at this point, it appears [the kids] were in there while the body was deteriorating," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said authorities responded after they were called for a welfare check at that unit. It is unclear if the children were enrolled in school while going through this
Neighbors said the apartment complex, CityParc11 at West Oaks Apartments, had been doing inspections the past month.
ABC13 was kicked off the property by management who wouldn't answer questions about the last time the apartment was inspected.
The three children are now in the county's custody.