HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Three brothers, who were alone in an apartment with the skeletal remains of their 8-year-old brother for months, were living in a "filthy, disgusting environment," according to investigators.
Gloria Williams and her boyfriend, Brian Coulter, are accused of leaving three children in an apartment on Green Crest with little food and moving into a fully-furnished apartment, which was just minutes away.
The children were discovered when the eldest called 911 on Oct. 24 just after 3 p.m.
Sgt. Dennis Wolfford, who is leading the investigation for the Harris County Sheriff's Office, described the 15-year-old as being the caregiver for his younger siblings. He believes the teen reached a point where mentally and physically he could not take it anymore.
When he arrived on scene on Green Crest Drive in west Harris County, Wolfford said they entered a pitch-black apartment that did not have electricity. When they turned on their flashlights, roaches ran across the floor.
He described the apartment as an unsanitary environment, where the children were washing dishes in the bathtub. Pill and alcohol bottles were littered on the floor, but Wolfford said he does not believe the children were forced to consume any of it.
Every few weeks, Wolfford estimated Williams and Coulter would have groceries delivered for the children. He also believes that the electricity had been off for a few weeks, meaning the children could not cook the Ramen Noodles they were being sent.
"It is beyond what the norm of humanity is and what you expect from people," Wolfford said.
The investigation into the case is ongoing, according to Andrea Beall, a child fatality prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney's Office who is assigned to the case.
"(The public doesn't) want to believe that something this egregious would happen," Beall said. "People smell smells but don't want to believe that this is a dead body or they see flies and they don't want to think it is because of a decaying child. They don't want to believe a child is being abused even."
Coulter is currently charged with the murder of 8-year-old Kendrick Lee.
The brothers recalled to investigators their mother's boyfriend beat Lee until his body was lifeless in a back bedroom of the apartment and covered him with a blanket in November 2020.
"A series of posts he made in February of this year, so many months after the death of Kendrick, Coulter was in this apartment posting live on Instagram where Williams is cooking steak and they are listening to music," Anna Bauman, a reporter with the Houston Chronicle said. "Investigators told us that was the same apartment where the body of the little boy was still in that bedroom."
The boys' mother, Williams, is charged with serious bodily injury, injury to a child by omission and tampering with a corpse.
"At the end of the day, whatever the law and the facts that support will be the charges that are filed and presented to a grand jury," Beall said.
Questions about the possibility of the death penalty are rising, but the district attorney's office said it is too soon to tell if that will be used in this case. The three brothers are living together in foster care, according to CPS.
Typically in cases like these, Beall said she will meet with the children several times without discussing the case to develop a rapport with them, before asking them to recount the horrific details of the case. She said they will likely have to testify in Williams and Coulter's trials.
"Because it is in the court that it's in, there's a chance that it will be tried quickly, but these cases can last years, unfortunately," Beall said.
Coulter and Williams are in jail. Coulter is due for arraignment on Dec. 15, while Williams has a court date on Jan. 5, 2022.