Police are questioning a mother of eight in connection with the death of a child that may have laid undiscovered in the cellar of the family home for up to two years. The family was known to social workers.
The heavily decomposed body of a boy, believed to be aged three-and-a-half, was found at the home in a quiet cul-de-sac in a suburb of Bradford on Wednesday.
Police said a 41-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man have been arrested. No one else is being sought in connection with the discovery.
Kath Tunstall, strategic director for children's services at Bradford Council, confirmed: "Over the years the family has received services from a range of agencies, as do many other families across the country.
"An independent investigation known as a serious case review will be held as is the standard procedure when there is a death of a child, which is always a tragedy." Police were called to the address after neighbours spotted a dishevelled-looking child at one of the home's dormer windows. It is believed the family had been living in the smartly-kept mid-terrace house for two years.
Neighbours spoke of their shock at the discovery and wondered how they could carry on living normally so close to the remains of a child. One said the woman, who had not been seen in recent days, was often spotted going shopping. A former neighbour described the mother as "lovely" and "caring" but said she had suffered from alcohol problems after the death of her mother.
Another neighbour said: "The curtains were always drawn and the Venetian blinds down as long as I can remember, but the kids seemed to go to school as normal and I would see her coming and going by taxi."
Forensic officers were last night continuing to search the premises and the rear yard was sealed off with police tape. A bunch of flowers with a small teddy attached had been tied to a tree with a note to the dead child. It read: "Sleep tight little angel." Another bunch of flowers was placed by the front door.
Bradford Council leader Councillor Ian Greenwood said: "Clearly this is a terrible tragedy. The discovery of this child's body has been upsetting and shocking for all of us. The police are keeping us fully informed and we will continue to work closely with them as the investigations continue."
Further tests are being carried out on the remains to establish an exact time of death and to identify the boy.
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said: "Inquiries are ongoing to establish the cause of death of the child. A 41-year-old woman and a 22-year-old man have been arrested and are in custody."