According to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the body of a nine-year-old child and three surviving siblings were found abandoned inside an apartment in the Houston, Texas, area on October 24.
ABC reported that one of the kids found was a 15-year-old, who called the sheriff’s office and told authorities that his brother had been dead for more than a year and his body was inside the apartment.
Deputies arrived at the scene and found the teenager and two other siblings who were 10 and 7, all living alone in the apartment, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said. The body was also found.
“It appears that the remains had been there for an extended period of time. And I emphasize extended,” Gonzalez said.
The sheriff also said that it seemed like the children who had survived were “fending for each other,” with the oldest sibling being the caretaker for the younger two.
The younger children looked malnourished and had physical injuries to their bodies, the statement said. All three children were later taken to a hospital, assessed, and treated by medical professionals.
The apartment where the children were found didn’t have any power, and a neighbor was helping the kids by charging a cell phone for them and providing them with food.
Gonzalez said that the children’s mother and her boyfriend were contacted, questioned, and later released.
Investigators are still looking into the situation and waiting for an autopsy report to determine a cause of death for the body found.
In a statement, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said that as of October 25, it was attempting to obtain emergency custody of all three kids “to ensure the safety of the children.”
“Child Protective Services does have a history with the family, but there was no active CPS investigation at the time the children were discovered alone in their apartment,” the agency said.
Officials are currently wondering why no one in the apartment complex noticed the abandoned children.