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Three starving children, 7, 10, and 15, are found alone inside Houston apartment next to the decomposing remains of their 9-year-old brother who had been dead for a YEAR

HCSO Sheriff Ed Gonzales said an unit was sent to do a welfare check at the residence after receiving a call. The body was not concealed

A Houston mother and her boyfriend were questioned and released without any charges, after the woman's three starving children, ages 7, 10, and 15, were found living alone in an apartment in deplorable conditions, along with the decomposing remains of their nine-year-old brother who police say had been dead for a year. 

The siblings and skeletal remains were found at 3535 Green Crest, near Addicks Clodine & Westpark Tollway, in Houston, Texas, around 4.30 pm on Sunday, after responding to a request for a welfare check that was made by eldest child. 

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzales said the three brothers were living without adult supervision for months in deplorable conditions and that the body of the dead child was on full display, prompting repeated complaints about a terrible smell from a neighbors.

In an update late Sunday, Gonzalez revealed that the children's mother and her boyfriend have been located and interviewed by homicide detectives. 

On Monday, the sheriff announced that the couple were released without being arrested or charged with any crime. No explanation was provided for the decision to let the pair go at this time. 

In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office wrote in an email to DailyMail.com: 'this is an active investigation, with charges pending.' 

Authorities have not said whether or not they were looking for the children's biological father. 

While there were no indications that the children were locked in the house, they had seemingly been abandoned by adults and were 'fending for each other.'  

Sheriff updates media after three kids are found inside apartment
Three siblings and skeletal remains presumed to be of a fourth sibling were found at 3535 Green Crest in Houston on Sunday

Three siblings and skeletal remains presumed to be of a fourth sibling were found at 3535 Green Crest in Houston on Sunday 

HCSO Sheriff Ed Gonzales said an unit was sent to do a welfare check at the residence after receiving a call. The body was not concealed

HCSO Sheriff Ed Gonzales said an unit was sent to do a welfare check at the residence after receiving a call. The body was not concealed

'I think the oldest sibling was doing the best he could to take care of the others,' Gonzales said. He did not say whom the apartment was registered to, nor who was paying the rent. 

'Connecting all the dots, it seems they were in there while the body was deteriorating.'

HCSO is now investigating to determine the circumstances that led to the death of the minor and how long the kids had been alone.

A neighbor in the apartment complex told the station KTRK that she complained for months about a foul odor emanating from the unit where the shocking discovery was made over the weekend.  

The gruesome incident began unfolding at around 3.15pm on Sunday, when cops received a 911 call from the 15-year-old boy, telling a dispatcher that his nine-year-old brother had been dead for a year and his skeletonized body was in a room next to his in the family's apartment.

The teen also revealed that his parents had not been living in the apartment for several months, Gonzales said in a tweet.

Deputies were dispatched to the apartment and found the remains of a small child.

According to the sheriff, who described the situation as ''heartbreaking,' the younger siblings 'appeared malnourished and showed signs of physical injury.'

All three surviving children were taken to a hospital to be evaluated and treated for their injuries.

The minors are now receiving professional assistance, and victim's advocates have been made available to help them cope with the trauma. 

Homicide investigators along with CPS and Child Abuse investigators are also working on the case. 

It is unclear whether any of the surviving siblings were enrolled in school.  

The children had seemingly been left abandoned by adults for a long period of time and were 'fending for each other'

The children had seemingly been left abandoned by adults for a long period of time and were 'fending for each other'

Homicide investigators along with CPS and Child Abuse investigators are also working on the case

Homicide investigators along with CPS and Child Abuse investigators are also working on the case

Residents of the area said that management had been doing inspection rounds in the area for the last couple of weeks.

A neighbor living next door to the siblings told KTRK she had no idea there was anyone occupying that unit, let alone children. 

She said that 13 or 14 months ago, she first noticed a vile odor wafting from what she thought was an abandoned apartment. 

The smell was so bad, the woman said, that she would be forced to turn off her air conditioning to prevent it from entering her apartment through the vents. 

The neighbor said she complained several times to the building's management about the smell, but it is unclear if anyone had gone to the unit housing the siblings to inspect it.   

Police said the investigation is still in the preliminary stages .

'Very horrific situation here, very tragic. I've been in this business for a long time and I've never heard of a scenario like this, it really caught me by surprise,' said Gonzales when addressing the media on Sunday evening.

'We are trying to identify next of kin to determine exactly what happened and how we got to this point...We're going to make sure we conduct a thorough follow-up investigation,' he added. 

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