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Christian Choate, 13, Buried By His Family Two Years Ago (and No One Noticed)

By Pete Kotz in homicide, unsolved
Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 12:02 pm
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UPDATE: Believe it our not, the short life of Christian Choate was far more brutal than we originally thought. His sister says he was systematically tortured by his dad and stepmom, who considered him a dog and kept him in a cage. See update after the jump...

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Riley Choate buried his son in a shallow grave, then told friends and family he ran away
It was April 2009. 13-year-old Christian Choate's sister found him unconscious on a mattress in their Gary, Indiana home. A coroner would later say he had suffered blunt trauma, internal bleeding and a skull fracture. The sister went to get her stepmom, Kim Choate.

Kim told the sister to give Christian CPR, but by then it was too late. The boy was already dead.

But instead of calling police, an ambulance or even a funeral home, Kim and her husband, Riley Choate, decided to wrap the boy in garbage bags and throw him in the back of their van. The sister helped them move the body.

A few days later, she saw her parents return home covered in mud. Kim told the girl that they'd buried Christian in concrete so he "couldn't get out."

Riley would later tell family and friends that Christian ran way. He never reported this to police, and it seems no one at school or anywhere else raised many questions. It would stay that way for two years.

Then the sister told her biological mom, Aimee Estrada, that Christian was dead. Estrada divorced Riley Choate in the early 2000s, claiming he was abusive. But being a stellar mom, she gave up full custody of Christian and his sister to the supposedly abusive Riley. She hadn't seen either of them since at least 2005.

But after receiving a call from the sister, Estrada called 911. Police confronted Riley, who apparently led them to Christian's burial site.

He been dumped in a shallow grave surrounded by plastic bags and lime to advance decay. A Bible had been placed on his chest.

Police have subsequently ruled Christian's death a homicide. But they have yet to formally identify the body, nor does the investigation seem anywhere close to concluding.

In the meantime, Riley has been charged with felony removal of a body from a death scene and failure to notify authorities of the discovery of a dead body. (Special thanks to reader Chris for the tip.)

UPDATE: Christian's sister says he was locked in a dog cage before he was murdered.

Christina was only 15-years-old when her father began locking her younger brother Christian in a dog cage. Father Riley Choate would routinely beat Christian, and had kept him in the cage for a year, fearing that he'd run away.

She was the one her parents assigned to check on him. Christian was only let out to eat and go to the bathroom.

On the day she found Christian dying, she says he was curled up and unresponsive in the cage. He wasn't breathing, so she scrambled to find the key for the lock. She pumped his chest and used an air pump to kick air into his lungs. But it was all for naught.

Riley finally came home and they loaded his body in a van. He then drove the body across the street and buried Christian under two feet of dirt, concrete and lime.

The family soon moved to Kentucky. But Christina never told anyone, fearing her father's wrath. During those two years, she wasn't allowed to go to school or talk on the phone.

Then Riley decided to move back to Indiana, leaving Christina, her stepmom and half-siblings behind. That's when she got the gumption to tell her biological mother of Christian's death.

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Stepmom Kimberly Kubina told the kids that Christian was "a dog," and that they should carry his murder to their graves
UPDATE II: Christian's dad and stepmom savagely tortured him in the year leading up to his murder.

We still don't know why Riley Choate and Christian's stepmom, Kimberly Leona Kubina, hated the boy so much. But that hate fueled a wrath of sadistic torture.

In the year leading up to his murder, Christian was kept in a small dog cage, rarely fed and wearing a diaper. He was sometimes chained to a bed frame where his dad punched, kicked and beat him with a metal pole in the face and head.

He was choked until he turned purple and forced to take cold baths. His hands and feet were often bound, leaving his arms and legs so damaged he could barely walk. 

When the kids' grandma would visit, they would keep him in a locked room in their trailer home with a blanket over his cage so she wouldn't notice him.

Christian would meet his death in April 2009, when he refused to eat. Sister Christina says this prompted her dad to punch him multiple times in the head, then toss him back in his cage. These were the blows that apparently killed him.

According to police, stepmom Kubina told the children that Christian was "a dog" who needed to be locked up. After he was murdered, she told them they should carry the secret to their graves.

Riley Choate and Kubina have now been charged with murder. They're also accused of battery, neglect of a dependent and criminal confinement.

See our last story from the Unsolved file: Karen Bourdon-Clark, School Counselor, Murdered By Her 14-Year-Old Son Dilan Clark.

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