UNION, N.J. (AP) — A malnourished 4-year-old boy found inside an apartment with the body of his mother, dead for days, had resorted to eating from a bag of sugar and weighed only 26 pounds, well below normal, police said Wednesday as adoption offers poured in from around the world.
The boy’s first request after being examined, police said, was a grilled cheese sandwich and a juice.
His mother, identified Wednesday as Kiana Workman, 38, of New York City’s Brooklyn borough, was discovered dead early Tuesday on the floor of her bedroom after maintenance workers at the apartment complex in northern New Jersey reported a foul odor. Because the chain lock was on, the boy couldn’t get out.
The apartment in this city 15 miles west of New York belongs to Workman’s mother, who is recuperating from surgery at a nursing center, said police, who could not track down any other relatives.
The boy, now in state custody, remained in a hospital where he was being treated for malnourishment and dehydration, police said.
“Physically, he’s fine. Whether there are any mental problems later on … I’m not a child expert,” said Police Director Daniel Zieser.
The boy was not strong enough to open the refrigerator and also was unable to open a can of soup. He told officers he had been eating from a bag of sugar, Zieser said.
The boy could not say how long his mother had been dead.
Police initially estimated she had been dead five days before the discovery was made, but Zieser said Wednesday it may have been two to three. Nobody had talked to her for about a week.
The boy weighed 26 pounds, but at the age of 4½ should have weighed 40 pounds or more, Zieser said.
“It’s possible he was improperly cared for before the mother’s death; we just don’t know yet,” Zieser said.
Autopsy results that would help them better determine the time of death were pending. Police said they did not suspect foul play.
Police said they were getting calls from around the world from people offering to adopt the child or donate money or toys.
“It’s overwhelming,” Zieser said.
“I just hope everything works out for the child,” the police director said. “We’re just going to take it one step at a time and do the best that we can for the child.”
Police said they were trying to find someone in the family capable of taking care of the child, including a brother of Workman believed to live out West. But he said it would be up to the state’s child welfare agency to determine where the child is placed.
Zieser described the apartment complex as a well-maintained property with few problems.
But he said everyone there “basically stays to themselves.”