HOUSTON - Gloria Williams, the mother accused of leaving her three sons abandoned in an apartment with their deceased brother, went before a judge Monday and even more disturbing details came out.
The prosecutor in the arraignment hearing told the judge, Williams, and her boyfriend, Brian Coulter, also lived there in that apartment with her 8-year-old son’s decomposing corpse for months from November 2020 to March 2021 before leaving her other children behind, to live with the body alone.
"This case has shocked the conscience of our community, as well as the nation, and we need to make sure we find answers as to how a mother could allow this to happen to her children and to find her accountable," says Prosecutor Andrea Beall.
Standing before the judge, Williams listened as Beall revealed, once Williams moved out, she sent some groceries about once a month. According to Beall, Williams didn’t know what to do with her son, Kendrick Lee's remains, so she continued renting the apartment so his body wouldn’t be discovered.
Coulter is charged with beating the 8-year-old to death. Williams is charged with Injury to a child by omission and tampering with a corpse.
"We’ve filed the charges that we’ve filed and this is a starting point," Beall explains.
"I am horrified. It’s terrible. I don’t want any child to be in that situation," says George Ford, Executive Director of Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards.
Unfortunately during the pandemic, an already underreported crime, child abuse, is being reported even less as kids spend more time away from mandatory reporters.
The boys left living with their deceased brother, for instance, had not been enrolled in school since May of 2020, which according to the Texas Education Agency, is the case for thousands of students. Since the start of COVID, reports of abuse dropped significantly.
"They did go down for a period of time, but they’re now approaching a little more normal level in recent months," Ford explains.
"What we have seen, though, are the cases that have come in, unfortunately, are a little more severe," says Kerry McCracken, Executive Director of the Children’s Assessment Center in Houston.
McCracken says as kids spend more time away from teachers, doctors, and coaches, it’s up to family members and neighbors to be the voice for abused children because she says abusers are counting on kids' silence and yours.
"I’ve heard it time and time again, ‘You know, I think something might be happening but I just don’t want to make that phone call. What if I’m wrong?’" says McCracken as she recalls conversations she’s had with those who are hesitant to report abuse.
"I understand the concern about possibly insulting the parents if they’re wrong, but I think you have to consider, well what if you’re right," adds Ford.
You can of course call 911 to report abuse or call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400.
Meanwhile, Williams and Coulter are expected back in court later in the week as prosecutors try to get bonds raised for both. Defense attorneys for both are attempting the opposite, hoping the judge will lower Williams bond from $900,000 and Coulter’s from $1 million.