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GARY, Ind. (STMW) — Indiana officials today announced they have launched an “expedited” investigation into the events surrounding the death of a 13-year-old boy whose body was found buried in a Gary trailer park last month.
Police investigators believe Christian Choate was buried in 2009, after he died following years of physical abuse that included being kept in a wire dog cage. Christian’s father, Riley Choate, and step-mother, Kimberly Kubina, have been charged with murder, battery and neglect charges in connection with the boy’s death.
The state Department of Child Services, citing privacy laws, would not confirm whether there had been prior allegations of abuse or intervention by the state.
“As a result of the tragic death of Christian Choate, the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) has initiated an expedited examination of this case,” said the DCS release issued this afternoon.
Police and relatives have said the family, which included as many as 10 children, nieces and nephews of Choate and Kubina, had been investigated by child welfare authorities during the years prior to Christian’s abuse.
One neighbor said she twice called child welfare authorities in the spring and summer of 2008, a period when Christian’s older sister and other children who lived with the family in the single-wide trailer told police the boy was subject to daily beatings and was isolated in the cage. Court records show he died in the spring of 2009, a day or so after his step siblings said they saw Riley Choate and Christian’s then 15-year-old sister allegedly strike the boy in the head.
“The objective of this review is to understand the events of this case, evaluate the actions taken within the child welfare system and other systems as necessary,” the DCS release said.
DCS officials received a case file this week and a management review team has started “a detailed examination” of the records, the release states.
“While this will be a complete review of the circumstances that ultimately led to Christian’s death, DCS will provide an open and transparent view of any Agency actions in this case,” the release states.
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