Grandmother of one the abandoned Houston children speaks out about morbid situation that left one of the siblings dead, saying she regrets not adopting.
The grandmother of one of the four children found abandoned at a Houston apartment, one of whom was found deceased with a rotting skeleton told media on Wednesday that she should have adopted the boy before the abuse started — as new details emerged about the violent death of his 8-year-old brother, Kendrick Lee.
Linda Smith, 71 — grandmother of starving and neglected 7-year-old Ja’Veon Kirklin — was devastated to learn he and his siblings were left in deplorable conditions by their mother and her daughter, Gloria Williams, 35.
‘I hold myself partly responsible. I should have taken Ja’Veon and adopted him,’ Smith, 71, told the nypost. ‘I should have held on to him.’
During a court appearance Wednesday, a prosecutor read statements from the three surviving children — who said they witnessed Williams’ boyfriend, Brian Coulter, 31, beat the young boy to death, KTRK reported.
The kids said they saw Coulter repeatedly punch Kendrick in his back and face — then covered him with a blanket when he appeared dead.
‘Every three to six months she has a new phone number,’
Coulter allegedly kicked Kendrick while he was lying on the floor not moving, Ja’Veon said, according to the prosecutor.
When Williams walked into the bedroom to check on her son and found him lifeless, she began sobbing and fighting with Coulter — but the couple soon fled without the kids, the prosecutor stated.
The 8-year-old boy’s corpse according to prosecutors was left to decompose for 11 months inside the apartment before this weekend’s morbid discovery.
According to relatives, who told of being unaware of any abuse, Gloria had a total of six children ranging in age from 7 to 17. Two of the four boys living in the abandoned apartment, including Kendrick, who had autism. Gloria no longer had parental rights over her two girls, according to the family members according to KPRC.
According to the relatives, Gloria was estranged from the family, very closed off, and only reached out for money.
‘Every three to six months she has a new phone number,’ one of the cousins, Yasmin Creag told KPRC. ‘Every three to six months she’s moving apartments, so we never have a solid address for her.’
‘The last time I have physically seen her is when we had Christmas over here in 2019. (It was him (Coulter) and all the kids,’ said Gladys Smith, Gloria’s aunt.
‘We had differences. I didn’t want her bringing different men into the house,’
In 2015, Linda Smith said Gloria and all of her children moved in with her while Ja’Veon’s dad was serving time in jai.
They lived there for three years but Smith eventually tossed them out because Williams repeatedly brought men into her home.
‘We had differences. I didn’t want her bringing different men into the house,’ Smith said. ‘So I asked her to leave.’
Smith said she had no idea the children were being abused but now regrets making them go.
‘I wish I would have known how bad of a situation those kids were in; I would have adopted all of the kids,’ she told the Daily Mail.
‘I regret kicking her out, I should have never done that. I’ve asked myself, What else have these kids gone through with all of the guys that have been in and out of her life? Were the kids molested, abused?’
Ja’Veon and his siblings, Jordan Lee, 15, and Trevon Lee, 10, were found abandoned Sunday, along with the skeletal remains of Kendrick, the youngest child.
Williams was charged with neglecting the kids while Coulter was arrested for the beating death of Kendrick. On Tuesday, Kendrick’s autopsy revealed he died of blunt force injuries.
After Williams left Smith’s home in 2015, she ‘disappeared’ before reappearing with Ja’Veon a few years later, Smith said.
‘I always felt if she had to choose between her kids and her man, she would choose her children — but it’s hard to say,’ Smith said of Williams. ‘She had some strange ways.’
‘Looking back on it now, I think if I would have asked her, she would have let me adopt Ja’Veon. It was just a feeling I got,’ Smith said.
Smith now feels compelled to care for all of the kids, and is encouraging her son to adopt Ja’Veon.
‘I’m heartbroken to hear what happened to them,’ she said.
Smith also wonders if Williams herself may have been abused by Coulter, she said.
‘Sometimes women can be battered into doing things — who knows if she was struggling,’ she said. ‘In some ways she was a pretty good mother. There might be a deeper story… My heart is starting to soften to her.’
Authorities were alerted to the abuse on Sunday after 15 year old boy, Jordan Lee ‘who finally had enough,’ called 911, prompting a welfare check.
Coulter and Williams allegedly left Kendrick’s body rotting in a closet and abandoned the other three children, authorities have said.