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Neighbor who helped teen found abandoned with young siblings had no idea they were alone

“That I love him and I would take him and his brothers … and that he needs to keep his head up. This ain’t his fault,” Erica Chapman said she would tell the boy.

HOUSTON — A woman who lives near the three children found abandoned in their Houston-area apartment said she had no idea what was going on behind the closed door.

The boys were living alone with the skeletal remains of their 9-year-old brother.

"Honestly I’m disgusted," Erica Chapman said. “If I knew something was wrong with any of those kids, I would have took all of them."

The oldest child, a 15-year-old boy, called 911 Sunday and said he and his two younger siblings, ages 10 and 7, had been living alone for months. He said his 9-year-old brother died about a year earlier and his remains were still inside their West Harris County apartment.

Chapman told us she helped the teen after seeing him sleeping on a playground slide.

"I asked him if he was hungry. He said, ‘Yeah,’ and I brought him out some food and some drinks,” Chapman said.

She asked him a few questions but said he didn't tell her much. She suspected something was off but didn't want to push the teen because she was hoping he would open up to her.

"He wouldn’t talk about his parents," Chapman said. "I did not want him not come to me for food. If you’re that hungry, I want him to come to me because I at least knew he was eating."

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez confirmed the skeletal remains of a child were found in the apartment. An autopsy will be performed to determine how the boy died.

The sheriff said the boys' mother and her boyfriend were questioned but released without charges.

Investigators aren't saying who had custody of the boys and haven't explained how no one at the apartment knew anything was wrong. Their investigation continues.

Children's Protective Services is seeking emergency custody of all three siblings. They said there was no prior investigation of the family.

Meanwhile, Chapman has a message for the 15-year-old: “That I love him and I would take him and his brothers … and that he needs to keep his head up. This ain’t his fault."

Zack Tawatari on social media: Twitter | Instagram

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