Police in Texas said this week that a 3-year-old special needs boy "looked like a skeleton" and weighed just 19 pounds at the time of his death. The young boy, King Dewey, was found emaciated and padlocked inside a closet in his Port Arthur home on Tuesday, KDFM-TV reported.
Both his mother and sister have since been arrested and charged in connection with his death, and now police are searching for a third suspect in the case, 24-year-old Jaylin Lewis, whom they characterized as an acquaintance of the two women.
Tina Louis, 43, and Kirsten Louis, 21, are currently being held at the Jefferson County Jail on two counts each of injury to a child for harm they allegedly caused to King as well as another unidentified sibling.
Port Arthur Police Detective Mike Hebert told KBMT-TV that King's death has been difficult for many of the officers tasked with working the case.
The detective said police were alerted to the boy's condition early Tuesday morning by a member of the family. When officers entered the Richmond Avenue home, they made the horrifying discovery.
"They did notice a closet that was padlocked," Hebert said. "They entered into that closet and it was infested with insects and it was filthy condition. The investigation would show that baby king was placed in that closet."
"It's hard to fathom when you see what took place in the house," he added, noting that the boy appeared to suffer from sever malnutrition and had a "skeletal appearance."
"I can't even imagine the horror that this child went through. I’m just speechless," Hebert said.
Police searching for 3rd suspect in death of 3-year-old boy found malnourished at Port Arthur home www.youtube.com
According to charging documents, in conversations with police, Kirsten, who identified herself as King's caretaker, said she observed the boy's weight decline and became concerned. But she claimed that when she brought it up to her mother, she assured her that his weight was normal due to his Down's syndrome diagnosis. Tina allegedly told her to just feed him milk and vitamins.
Kirsten ultimately listened to her mother and failed to contact police or emergency medical services. She told police investigators that she didn't reach out to authorities because she feared that Child Protective Services would remove her other siblings from the home.
The mother, Tina, reportedly later admitted to police that King had not been receiving proper health care for the past nine months.
Both women are being held on $1.5 million bond.
Two other siblings who lived at the household have been placed with relatives.