A naked, malnourished four-year-old boy found in an apartment with the body of his mother, who had been dead for days, had survived by eating from a bag of sugar.
Police told media that the boy weighed only 26 pounds when found, leading to speculation that he may have been "improperly cared for" even before his ordeal inside the locked apartment.
According to the Associated Press, the boy's mother — identified as Kiana Workman, 38, of Brooklyn — was discovered dead Tuesday.
CBS News reported that police showed up at the Union, N.J., apartment on after a neighbor reported a strange smell coming from the building.
No one had talked to Workman for about a week.
The chain lock was on when police arrived, meaning the toddler couldn't get out.
Police Director Daniel Zieser told New York’s WCBS radio station:
"He made a statement to the officer that `There's plenty of food in the refrigerator, but I couldn't open the door.' So that's kind of sad that nobody checked on him, no family members. It's sad, very sad."
Officer Joseph Sauer told The Associated Press:
"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."
The average weight for a 4-year-old is at least 40 pounds.
The boy's first request was for a grilled cheese sandwich and a juice.
The boy's grandmother is in a nursing facility and police are looking for other relatives, although adoption offers had since poured in from around the world for the boy.
Upon being discharged from the hospital, he was placed in state custody.