4-year-old living on sugar, caring for dead mom’s body

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UNION, New Jersey (PIX11) —  It was a foul odor coming from the apartment that alerted police to force open the chain-locked front door.

Once inside, Union police officers found a very malnourished and dehydrated 4-year-old boy in the living room, and the badly decomposing body of his mother on the floor of the bedroom. The child was surviving on sugar.

4-year-old living on sugar

Police believe the mother died of natural causes 4 to 6 days earlier.  “(I’m) very sorry for this boy and the lady,” said one neighbor.  “For this boy it’s a tragedy.”

The police director told PIX 11 that  the 4-year-old boy was “alert, spunky and talkative.” He said his fingers were hurting. He told police there was food in the refrigerator but that he couldn’t open the door.

Police also said the little boy had been rubbing lotion on his mother’s skin over the past four to six days to care for her.   Neighbors say the little boy’s grandmother had been hospitalized with a broken hip and that the boy’s mother hadn’t been looking well for months.

“I know she was sick. I haven’t seen the lady since January,” said a neighbor.

Another neighbor said he didn’t know what had happened, but that he is very sad that no one has time anymore to look out for their neighbors.

“So sad, very sad,” he added wistfully.

The boy is at University Hospital hospital in Newark in stable condition suffering from malnutrition and dehydration. He’s expected to make a full physical recovery.

Union police are awaiting the autopsy from the Union County Medical Examiner’s office to determine the exact time and cause of death.

Police are still trying to find the little boy’s relatives to see where he will live once he’s released from the hospital.


  • samantha

    As a mom to a soon to be 4yr old boy I cried my eyes out. For such a young little man to take care of his mom not understanding and being by her side is a sad thing. My heart goes out to that little man and the family and i hope he goes to a very well loving famil

  • LaDonna K. Dunn

    May God be with this family during this tragic time. Please I ask that this little boy doesnt fall thru the cracks of DHS and finds a good loving christain family. Bless his heart. He will need all the help he can get and love. A friend of min stepson went thru this at the same age. and because he was neglected and was in the system he lives a very short life as he had taken his own. He was 18. My prayers are out for him and family to give them the strength to carry on with Gods love

  • debbie

    What a sad bit of news. Poor baby. We can only hope that there are loving, caring and very understanding family mmbers to take this child in, to listen to him and be there for him. If not, may the system do well in finding a family of the same standards. Otherwise, he'll be a mess for the rest of his life. These events just don't go away. May he be blessed with a guardian angel to guide him throughout his future.

  • N. Hardy

    As a mother of a 4 year old, this is absolutely heart-wrenching. We definitely have to teach our little ones how to dial 9-1-1 if they are ever suspicious that something isn't right in the household. I'll definitely be uplifting this entire family in prayer and I hope that he is placed in the best care possible moving forward. His mother will forever be his guardian angel.

  • Barbara

    As a mother of 6 kids and a grandma & Great Grandmother I can't express the sadness that I feel. I Thank God that the little boy was able to find sugar and that he wasn't physically hurt during this long, sad time. PLEASE teach all children over 3 years old the importance of dialing 911 when "Mom or Dad" or whomever is caring for them doesn't answer them. I don't want to be judgemental, perhaps they didn't have a telephone. May God bless this child and his family forever!

  • Amy

    This is so sad! I hope they find his family! My husband and I are unable to have children and would love to care for him! I'm so glad that he was able to atleast find something to eat to keep him going. Bless his little heart!

  • Trish

    Words fail to express the sadness I feel for this little one :( I pray he has a loving family, whether that be biological or otherwise to help him become a well adjusted & happy adult after such a terrible tragedy so early in his life. May life only bless him from here on.

  • Sina Dum

    My heartfelt goes out to this little boy. As I read down these, my eyes filled with tears. I hope I can help in somehow. May a caring and loving family take him in and give hima a loving life that can erase that terrible tragedy from his life. Blessed you little man.

  • Oliver

    I absolutely love your website.. Great colors & theme.
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    back as I’m trying to create my own blog and would love to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Thanks!

  • Doreen

    A lot of readers are saying they want to help. You can, become a foster parent. Good, dedicated foster parents are always in demand. I was a licensed foster/adopted parent myself and there is alwalys a demand for homes-especially for older children. So please don't just say you want to help and then do nothing. Call your local DHS and find out when and where you can start taking classes. Everyone is needed-old, young, married, divorced, single etc. etc. You don't have to be rich, just kind, loving, and patient.

  • ronda

    This is so sad.I pray whoever gets custody will have him in some kind of treatment. It's just breaks your heart. God bless you little guy.

  • k West

    My father died when I was 4. I asked my mother when is daddy coming home? She said he is not coming home any more. That was the end of it. I do not think I understood death. I am 62 years old. Yes he will remember this the rest of his life. But I hope not.

  • an angels faith

    This made me cry, poor baby. But it was nice to read all the loving comments from all you guys. You give hope in humanity. Bless this little boy, and bless all of you who took the time to show you care.

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