‘Too horrific to be real’: Court docs say 2 kids saw brother’s beating death -- just one disturbing revelation uncovered in west Harris County abandonment case

Docs say boy saw brother’s eyes stop blinking during the assault

Here's what we learned today

HOUSTON – Two boys described in gruesome detail how their brother was beaten to death, just days after authorities found the boy’s skeletal remains in an apartment in West Harris County.

According to court documents read aloud during a probable cause hearing, Brian Coulter, the boyfriend of the children’s mother, fatally beat the boy to death in front of his siblings. The boys said Coulter struck the eight-year-old in the face, feet, buttocks, back, legs and groin and that Coulter continued to kick and hit the boy after he had stopped moving.

The seven-year-old said that he stared at his older brother’s face while Coulter was kicking and hitting him and at some point during the beating, his brother stopped blinking.

Once he had killed the boy, Coulter laid out his body on the floor and covered him, according to the court documents. When the children’s mother Gloria Williams, came into the room, she saw the body on the floor, began crying and made the children leave while she fought with Coulter.

RELATED: Mother, her boyfriend charged after child’s remains found in west Harris County apartment, sheriff says

The 10-year-old said Williams returned to the apartment sometime later to check on the dead boy and found that the his “body, feet and teeth had turned into a skeleton” and that his hair “was off.”

According to the court documents read during the probable cause hearing, Williams said she saw Coulter punching her eight-year-old child and stopped him from assaulting the child further. When she checked on the child the next morning, she found him covered with a blue blanket. When she pulled back the blanket, she saw that the child was dead, she said.

Williams said that when she confronted Coulter, he told her he was sorry and that “he lost it” and had continued punching the child until he “went to sleep.”

She told investigators she did not notify law enforcement of the boy’s death because Coulter had told her not to and that she was afraid the three other children would be taken by Child Protective Services. She also said she worried she would go to jail.

Hear the court docs read aloud during Williams’s Wednesday hearing.

Docs say boy saw brother’s eyes stop blinking during the assault

Williams and Coulter were taken into custody Tuesday. Williams was charged with injury to a child by omission, injury to a child causing serious bodily harm, and tampering with evidence, namely a human corpse. Coulter was charged with murder.

Coulter’s bond was set at $1,000,000. As a condition of his bond, if released, Coulter must wear a GPS ankle monitor under house arrest until his next court appearance. Williams appeared in court several hours later. Her bond was set at $900,000 -- $250,000 for the count of injury to a child by omission, $300,000 for the count of tampering with evidence, namely a human corpse, and $350,000 for the count of injury to a child causing serious bodily harm. Authorities said the they could face additional charges.

RELATED: Death of child whose remains found in west Harris County apartment ruled homicide

On Tuesday, authorities ruled the child’s death a homicide. The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences said the child died from homicidal violence and suffered multiple blunt force injuries.

The boy’s skeletal remains were found Sunday when his older brother, age 15, called the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. He told deputies that his brother had been dead for a year and that he and his younger brothers, ages 10 and 7, had been living in an apartment with the boy’s decomposing body. The teen said his parents had moved out of the apartment months ago.

When deputies went to the apartment, located at a complex in the 3500 block of Green Crest, they found the teen, his younger brothers, and the skeletal remains of the eight-year-old.

“For many agency veterans, it was the most disturbing case they had worked in their entire law enforcement career,” said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. “It seemed too horrific to be real.”

Deputies said the young boys appeared malnourished and had physical injuries -- The 10-year-old had sustained a serious jaw injury during a beating. All three were taken to the Texas Children’s Hospital to be assessed and treated. Because the 10-year-old did not receive medical treatment after he was punched in the jaw, he will need surgery, Gonzalez said.

Authorities said at least one of the children had special needs.

Gonzalez said the children were living in deplorable conditions and it appeared they had been fending for themselves for some time. He said the carpet inside was soiled, the apartment was unfurnished and it appeared there were no blankets or bedding. The apartment was also infested with flies and cockroaches and there is evidence the children were at some point locked in different parts of the residence, Gonzalez said.

Harris County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Dennis Wolfford said it appeared the younger children were not allowed to leave the apartment.

RELATED: 3 children, including skeletal remains of possible 9-year-old, found inside abandoned apartment in west Harris County, sheriff confirms

“Very horrific situation out here, very tragic,” Gonzalez said during a news conference Sunday. “Been in this business a long time and I had never heard of a scenario like this. It really caught me by surprise.”

None of the children had attended school since May 2020.

Authorities said Williams and her boyfriend abandoned the apartment and the surviving children five to six months after Coulter beat the boy to death. The pair moved into another apartment 25 minutes away. It appears Williams had been delivering food to the children periodically.

According to court documents read during a probable cause hearing, Coulter fatally beat the child about a week before Thanksgiving in November 2020.

Williams told the children she would call authorities to report their brother’s death. She never made that call and after waiting for nearly a year, the 15-year-old overcame his “absolute fear” and contacted authorities himself, Gonzalez said.

While describing the abuse he and his brother suffered, the teen told authorities Coulter used to lock his younger brothers in a bedroom and beat them. Though the teen told his mother about the beatings, he said she did nothing to address it, according to the court documents.

The 10-year-old told investigators said that Coulter beat him, often hitting him on his buttocks, legs, stomach and face. About three weeks ago, Coulter punched him in the jaw, causing his face to swell. He added that Coulter would get “very strong” when he drank beer.

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Wollford described Coulter as a “textbook case of a person who abuses children.” When asked whether Williams also beat the children, Wolfford said “I’d say they’re both abusers. He was an abuser physically and she was an abuser by omission.”

Authorities said Williams and Coulter had been together for several years. At some point in the relationship, Coulter began beating the children on a consistent basis.

During the investigation, deputies located Williams and Coulter. Both were questioned Monday and released later the same day. They have since been detained, charged and remained jailed as of Wednesday night.

“My prayer is that the remaining children find the love, the support and the protection that they so desperately needed and deserved and that they have been missing for so long and I hope that their future is better than their past,” Gonzalez said.

Watch HCSO’s full Wednesday news conference below.

The boy’s skeletal remains were found Sunday when his older brother, age 15, called the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and told deputies the eight-year-old had been dead for a year and that his body was inside the apartment where he and his surviving brothers, ages 10 and 7, had been living alone. The teen reported his parents had not lived in the apartment for several months.

About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team as a community associate producer in 2019. During her time in H-Town, she's covered everything from fancy Houston homes to tropical storms. Previously, she worked at Austin Monthly Magazine and KAGS TV, where she earned a Regional Edward R. Murrow award for her work as a digital producer.