Today we are going over the existing details known about the abuse, murder, and neglect involved in the recent discovery of 8 year old, Kendrick Lee’s remains in Houston, TX. This case is still evolving and new information is being gathered as we speak, so when you see or hear this episode, there may have been more details released to the public. It is my intention to revisit this case as often as necessary to bring the latest updates to you. But as of today, this is what we know thus far:
According to ABC News 13, “On Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, Harris County deputies responded to the scene at an apartment complex, where Lee’s skeletal remains were found and his siblings were left abandoned. The sheriff’s office says they received a call from a 15-year-old claiming that his 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.
Before calling for help, the 15-year-old texted his mom to tell her he could not take it anymore, ABC13 has learned. When deputies arrived, they found skeletal remains consistent with what that teenage boy told dispatchers.”
The Abuse and Murder of a Child
8 year old, Kendrick Lee is the victim who was murdered sometime around Thanksgiving last year in 2020. Little Kendrick was beaten to death with kicks and blows witnessed by the other siblings and died of multiple blunt force injuries. His body was left there to decompose.
His surviving siblings, also victims in this case are aged 15, 9, and 7. They were left alone in the apartment for over a year and were fending for each other during their time alone. The older brother of Kendrick was able to reach police and reported that his younger brother had been killed and left decomposing in their apartment for almost a full year.
Another one of the brothers reveals to authorities that he witnessed his brother’s murder at the hands of their mom’s boyfriend. This heartbreaking story involves three surviving children living alone without supervision in the apartment with the decomposing body of their brother, Kendrick.
House of Horrors
The murder and abandonment took place on Green Crest Drive and Westpark Drive in Southwest Harris County, Houston, TX. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said “There aren’t many jobs in our agency that are tougher than those involving abused children. These cases are horrific, heartbreaking cases of abuse and neglect. And they involve the most innocent and defenseless among our community.”
Sheriff Ed Gonalez said when they entered the apartment, they saw soiled carpet, no furniture, no bedding, no blankets, no nothing at all, and that the children had been living in “pretty deplorable conditions”. The apartment complex was balking at providing answers to who had been paying the rent at the apartment. The sheriff said kids were found with food, but no one knows where they were getting it.
The remaining children were found malnourished and with telltale signs of physical abuse. Quote from law enforcement: “In my long time of working homicides, this one’s up there. This one affected us.”
Living with the Dead
The 15yr old told law enforcement that he had discovered the body of his brother in a bedroom of the apartment the week prior to Thanksgiving of last year, 2020. He believed that his mother would call the police, but she never did. Then, the mom, Gloria, and the boyfriend, Brian moved out of the apt, leaving them with their deceased brother without adult supervision.
October 25th, the day after the 15-year-old got in touch with law enforcement, 35-year-old Gloria Williams (the mother) and Brian Coulter (Gloria’s boyfriend) were interviewed by authorities and then released. On the 26th they were both arrested on the same day that the medical examiner ruled that Kendrick had died as a result of multiple blunt force injuries. They were arrested outside of a library where they had gone in to use the computers to look themselves and the unfolding story up.
Gloria was charged with injury to a child by omission, failure to provide adequate supervision, and failure to provide medical care, and tampering with evidence. Brian Coulter, the boyfriend, 31, was charged with murder. The initial judge presiding over the preliminary hearing recused himself for “personal reasons”.
Side note: Gloria and Brian apparently lived 15 minutes away from the apartment where her children lived alone with the corpse of the brother.
It Takes a Village
Let’s briefly touch on the apartment complex, the neighbors, and the apartment now referred to as the“House of horrors”:
Neighbors complained of odor and other issues not related to clear signs of abuse and abandonment. One of the next-door neighbors was called by the apartment complex and asked to go knock on the door to see what was going on. He knocked on the door on several occasions, but he never got an answer.
I am curious to find out why there was not more action taken on the part of the complex. Maybe they were just happy to keep receiving rent and had no desire to investigate. Neighbors and other tenants of the complex thought they were helping the 15-year-old, by giving food or letting him charge his cell phone.
What the actual hell? You cannot tell me that these weren’t red enough flags here to go and notify authorities.
Failed Yet Again by the System
A former teacher heard about what happened and showed up at the apartment complex completely shattered by the news. ABC News 13 reports that “Alief ISD confirmed to ABC13 that in 2019 and 2020, the school district filed truancy papers against the mother, Williams. Two of her children apparently failed to show up to school.
District officials said the kids were last enrolled in May 2020. A Sept. 2020 home visit went unanswered, according to the district. Sadly, shortly before Thanksgiving appears to be the last time that Lee would be alive. The holiday last year fell on Nov. 26.”
The 10-year-old witness stated that he was in the room when Brian attacked his younger brother, Kendrick, striking him in the face, feet, buttocks, back, legs, and testicles with closed fists and feet. He described that Brian laid a cover over Kendrick on the floor. Then Gloria entered the room later to check on Kendrick and found him under the cover. Gloria then started crying and made the 10 year leave the room.
The Surviving Victims of Abuse and Neglect
Gloria and Brian began arguing because Gloria because the 10-year-old said that she “was upset that he had killed” Kendrick. Brian went into the room a few days later to check on the body and the body (feet, head, and teeth) was looking skeletal and his hair was coming out. Even after this, Brian beat the surviving 10-year-old regularly.
The child said that he had been punched in the jaw causing his face to be swollen. He also revealed that Brian would get stronger and angrier with alcohol in him. Law enforcement found the 10 year to have extensive swelling of the face and jaw needing medical attention.
He was taken to the hospital where it was found that he had blunt force trauma to the face. This facial injury required reconstructive surgery due to the fact that it had gone so long untreated and no medical attention had been sought at the onset. The boy’s injury had happened approximately three weeks prior to them calling the police. Even though Gloria saw and was aware of his injury, she sought no medical treatment for him.
When Children Witness a Murder
Next, the 7-year-old stated he witnessed Kendrick being kicked and punched. He remembered all the way from last year, at such a young age that even when Kendrick wasn’t moving, Brian continued to kick him repeatedly. He witnessed Kendrick stop blinking during the assault, and that his eyes were black.
Law enforcement was also notified that Brian Coulter would lock them (the children) in a bedroom on occasion. The 15-year-old would hear both defendants hitting his brother, this also happened when he would hear beatings taking place when he was in the next or even same room.
The children described how they pulled back the sheet to see if the brother was really dead and they saw roaches crawling all over him. In Gloria’s statement, she claims that right before Thanksgiving last year, she had gone into the bedroom where Kendrick was with two siblings and found Brian punching Kendrick. She claims to have stopped Brian, and that she had gone in the bedroom the next morning to find Kendrick dead with a blue sheet over him.
She confronted Brian who said he was “sorry” and that he “had lost it” and had punched him and continued punching him until Kendrick “went to sleep”. Brian said he covered him with a blanket after “he went to sleep”. Gloria knew all of this and never notified the police because Brian had told her not to and that she was afraid her children would be taken by CPS and that she would go to jail.
She also intentionally moved to another apartment leaving her kids in squalor so that Kendrick’s body would stay concealed. Essentially, she left the three remaining kids there so that it appeared that someone still lived there so there would be no discovery of the body, or so she thought. With no care for her killed son or her other children, she conveniently moved away from the situation using her kids as cover.
She continued to pay rent and would send groceries to the apartment once a month. Clearly, not enough food was provided for the kids, especially since the surviving children were found to be malnourished. Even with the food sometimes provided by neighbors, they were severely undernourished.
As kind as it is that neighbors offered food to the kids on occasion, that does not exempt neighbors from responsibility here. They knew something bad was going on, gave food, didn’t ask questions, and did not report the situation, instead, burying their heads in the sand.
The surviving children have told authorities that they would frequently be locked in the room with Kendrick’s dead and rotting corpse. This occurred multiple times even while Gloria and Coulter were still living in the apartment.
Timeline of Events
Here’s a bit of the timeline from 2020 to now:
- November 23, 2020, Coulter was arrested for unlawful possession of a weapon.
- March of 2021, Gloria and Brian moved out of the apartment, leaving the remaining children alone with the decomposing body.
- September of 2021 the electricity was cut to the apartment.
- October 24, 2021, The 15-year-old finally broke down and called 911 and said that he has been living in the apartment with his dead brother for almost a year and that his mom and the boyfriend hadn’t lived there for several months.
- October 26th Gloria and Brian finally arrested.
I would very much like to believe that the selfish actions by Gloria and Brian moving into a different apartment while leaving the kids alone, was their downfall. They didn’t want to put up with the smells, the rot, the squalor, so they moved. But, kept the kids there in fear for their lives, fighting for everyday survival.
If they hadn’t ever moved out and had kept constant watch over the remaining kids, chances are that they would not have been caught at this point. Not to mention the pair’s knuckleheaded last act of going to the local library to use the computers to look up the news on their own case and what was being reported about them. After leaving the library, they were arrested in the parking lot.
Biological Father Finds Out About Son’s Death on the News
To make matters worse, after not having seen his son since 2017, the biological father of Kendrick learned about his murder on the news like the rest of the world. How tragic! He had been estranged from Gloria and kept away from his son after their breakup.
Who knows what kind of father this man is, but one would like to believe he would have taken care of Kendrick better than Gloria had. ‘Kendrick is my baby, he’s my youngest son,’ Lee said in an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com. ‘I still can’t believe it.’
Using Children to Benefit Financially
Also discovered recently was that Gloria had continued to receive government assistance in the form of $2,000 a month payment even after Kendrick’s death. It is believed that Kendrick and another one of her children were and are on the autism spectrum.
Brian, on the other hand has issues with alcoholic and the testimony by 15 year old indicates that Brian would get meaner, stronger, and more abusive with alcohol in him.
A protective order was requested for the surviving children as well as a steep bond for the defendants with orders to not go near the complainants or any children under the age of 17. They wanted to make sure she wasn’t able to have any contact with her children under any circumstances. Gloria’s bond was even raised further at the request of prosecutors totaling $1.5 million.
A Survivor’s Words of Wisdom
I want to close out by reading from an article that I appreciate, which discusses how society, child protective services, and neighbors failed these children. What I am about to read was written beautifully by Stacey Patton, who is a journalist, child advocate, and author of Spare the Kids: Why Whupping Children Won’t Save Black America, and the forthcoming Strung Up: The Lynching of Black Children in Jim Crow America. I recently finished reading her book called That Mean Old Yesterday where she chronicles her childhood in the foster care system, adoption, abuse, and later redemption.
I was moved beyond words by her bravery, persistence, and the advocacy work she does with Spare the Kids. She is a new hero of mine and I would love to see people support and donate to her advocacy group!
The Uncomfortable Truth
Stacey writes about Kendrick’s case: “One of those neighbors was Erica Chapman who told a reporter that she occasionally saw the mother drop off food and that she had seen the teen sleeping on one of the slides. Another neighbor, Trevor Thompson, reported that the teen would not accept cooked food because he was paranoid about being poisoned. And yet somehow his unusual behavior and physical appearance did not make either of these neighbors suspicious enough to call the police or child protective services.
A next-door neighbor who noticed a foul odor coming from the children’s apartment said she repeatedly complained to management about the smell, but no action was taken. Why didn’t she feel compelled to call the police? Or Child Protective Services?
According to the Alief School District, the boys last attended in May 2020. The district brought truancy charges against their mother, but those charges were dismissed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More neighbors have come forward over the past few days wondering how they could have missed the signs of abuse.
Like in many abuse cases, especially those that end with a fatality, family members expressed their shock, regret, and judgement during media interviews. This case is yet another horrible example of how many people turn a blind eye to the abuse of Black children.
How could their mother not only fail to protect her own children from her violent boyfriend, but abandon those who survived his attacks? How could she keep coming to the apartment to drop off food, but never seek help? Never call or ask anyone to help?
How did this tragedy happen? How could the neighbors have been so disconnected? How could they see a thin Black teenager begging for food, sleeping outdoors, smelling a foul odor coming from his apartment and not call the cops?
Did they fail to act because they are accustomed to accepting the suffering of Black children who are impoverished, unkempt, starving, and abandoned? Is the adults’ fear of the police, child protective services—the system—so deep-rooted and pervasive that even this situation would have them enabling the suffering rather than reaching out to authorities to try to end it? To understand how this kind of horrific abuse and so many failures could happen, we need to connect a number of factors:
First, we must always acknowledge the larger ecosystem of oppression and anti-Blackness that drive all systems in this country. So yes, the system is absolutely stacked against Black survival, Black families, Black children, and overall Black well-being. No question about that.
But knowing that should make it even more problematic that Black communities have a child abuse problem that we desperately need to discuss and address. Because the ways we talk about it currently are not just dysfunctional, they’re contributing to these kinds of horrific outcomes.
I often hear Black folks say they refuse to call the police or social services when they see a child being physically assaulted by a parent or caretaker.
“It’s not my business.” “It’s not my place to tell another parent how to parent their child.” “I don’t want to call the cops because they are trigger happy and they might shoot the parent.” “I don’t want to see another Black family broken up or another black child placed in the foster care system.”
But what if “the system” isn’t the biggest threat to young Black life?
The tragic reality is that Black children are more at risk of being seriously injured or killed by their own parents than by the police. Between 2013 to 2018, 41 Black children were killed by police in the United States, according to data from The Washington Post’s “Fatal Force” police shooting database. During that same period, 2,389 Black children were killed by their parents as a result of maltreatment, according to annual data published by the Children’s Bureau.
Not that the police murders are at all justified. But we can’t ignore the fact that 2,345 more Black children were killed by their parents than by police. This is an issue that we must face.
Child abuse is becoming more normalized as digital content featuring children being humiliated, shamed, verbally and physically abused spreads via social media. So much of this nation’s culture teaches us to view and parent Black children in detached, non-empathic ways. Not to connect with their pain.
Not to normalize healthy development. Not to listen to their voices or consider their well-being. Not to fight for their lives.
We’re caught between the rock of centuries of systemic racism and the hard place of a heartless social media culture that takes perverse pleasure in turning their trauma into entertainment. All of this normalizes the abuse and neglect and presumptive criminalization of Black children. We joke about beating kids in comedy, in social media memes and videos, and our urban radio stations.
We preach about it through misquoted Bible verses. We celebrate the whuppings we received, claiming that they made us better people, kept us out of jail, contributed to our well-being and success. Few of us can admit that we were actually traumatized, so we repeat and reenact these cycles of pain from one generation to the next.
And too often, those of us who do call out these forms of childism and protest violence against children are criticized, demonized, and even threatened. Sometimes the fierce defense of Black mothers—including those who are abusive and/or neglectful—causes us to resist or shut down the conversations we need to be having about the suffering of our children in our communities. Gender politics further complicate an already tangled dynamic.
We argue over the difference between spanking and abuse. Over whether spanking is actually hitting. I’m convinced that some people don’t believe in child abuse until a child is laying in a casket or rotting into a dry skeleton in a closet with their starving siblings.
It takes a village to beat and murder a child.”