It's an unthinkable series of deaths in east London: Four-year-old Chadrack Mulo was found dead in his Hackney apartment Oct. 20, 2016, clutching the body of his "very decomposed" mother, who authorities believe died two weeks before her son did. Coroner Mary Hassell tells the Guardian that Chadrack's mother, Esther Eketi-Mulo, suffered a fatal epileptic fit on Oct. 1 or 2. Chadrack, who the Hackney Gazette reports was autistic and mute, was apparently unable to obtain help or feed himself and succumbed to dehydration and starvation, likely on Oct. 18.
Hassell says "the likelihood is that Chadrack lived alone in the family home for over a fortnight after his mother's death." Neighbors describe themselves as haunted by the idea they could have saved the boy if only they had known. The Gazette reports some did detect an unusual smell but waved it off as cooking. The deaths have spurred calls for changes to the steps schools must take in the event of a child's prolonged absence. Chadrack's teachers did twice try to visit the family's apartment after being unable to reach Eketi-Mulo by phone, but Schools Week reports they could not gain entry to the block of flats where Chadrack and his mother lived. (Read more death stories.)