A small, malnourished 4-year-old boy was found in his apartment alongside the body of his dead mother in New Jersey on Tuesday. After his mother’s death, the boy had resorted to eating from a bag of sugar in order to live.
According to CBS News, police showed up at the Union, N.J., apartment on Tuesday after a neighbor reported a strange smell coming from the building. While there, police found Kiana Workman, 38, dead on her bedroom floor. Police also discovered her son, who had not eaten solid food in days. Instead, the unnamed child had resorted to feeding himself from a bag of sugar and had practically withered away.
Typically, a healthy 4-year-old boy should weigh about 40 pounds. Instead, the child, who was naked when found by police, weighed only 26 pounds.
"The only way to describe the little boy was it was like a scene from World War II, from a concentration camp, he was that skinny. I mean, you could see all his bones," Police officer Joseph Sauer told CBS.
The malnourished child claimed that there was plenty of food in the fridge, but that he was unable to open the door himself. He also had access to cans of soup, though he was unable to open those as well. As a last-ditch effort for sustenance, the 4-year-old began eating the sugar.
"He made a statement to the officer that `There's plenty of food in the refrigerator, but I couldn't open the door,"' Police Director Daniel Zieser told New York’s WCBS radio station. "So that's kind of sad that nobody checked on him, no family members. It's sad, very sad."
After police found the boy, he reportedly asked them for a grilled cheese and a glass of juice -- his first real meal in several days. Authorities are not sure exactly how long his mother had been dead, but that the boy could have been on his own for as long as six days.
Currently, the child is in state custody at a local hospital, where he is being treated for malnutrition. Ultimately, police say that the boy should be physically fine after some time recovering. They are unsure whether or not he was being fed properly before his mother’s death.
"Physically, he's fine. Whether there are any mental problems later on ... I'm not a child expert," Zieser said. "It's possible he was improperly cared for before the mother's death; we just don't know yet.”
As of press time, police are attempting to track down any family members that may be able to take care of the child, but it is possible that he will remain in state custody for a lengthy period of time.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.