A naked, malnourished boy found in an apartment with the body of his mother, who had been dead for days, had resorted to eating from a bag of sugar and weighed only 11 kilograms, police say.
The four-year-old's first request after being examined, police in New Jersey say, was a juice and a grilled cheese sandwich.
His mother, identified on Wednesday as 38-year-old Kiana Workman, was discovered dead on Tuesday on the floor of her bedroom after building maintenance workers reported a foul odour.
Because the chain lock was on the boy couldn't get out.
Officer Joseph Sauer said the boy was naked but coherent and not crying when police kicked in the door.
"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," Sauer told The Associated Press.
The boy was not strong enough to open the refrigerator and he couldn't tell police how long he had been eating from a bag of sugar.
The boy could not say how long his mother had been dead.
Police said he put lotion on his mother, leaving behind handprints, in an attempt to help her.
Police initially estimated she had been dead for five days before the discovery, but Zieser said on Wednesday it may have been two to three.
Nobody had talked to her for about a week.
Autopsy results were pending but police did not suspect foul play.
Officer Sylvia Dimenna, who travelled in the ambulance with the boy and stayed with him at the hospital, said he was very bright and articulate but tired.
"He said he missed his mommy," she said.
The boy, now in state custody, remained in a hospital where he was being treated for malnourishment and dehydration.
At his age, he should weigh 18 kilograms or more, police said, so it's possible he was improperly cared for before his mother's death.
Police said they were getting calls from around the world from people offering to adopt the child or donate money or toys.
It would be up to the state's child welfare agency to determine where he was placed.