Records of the Indiana Department of Child Services reveal that Christian Choate, a boy who authorities claim lived locked in a cage and died from savage abuse, wrote letters describing his situation and saying that he wanted to die.
According to the Chicago Tribune, DCS visited with the Choate family in Gary, Indiana more than a dozen times starting in 1999, investigating allegations of abuse and neglect. Authorities never discovered what prosecutors claim was the true depth of the misery in which young Christian lived.
Based on accounts from his sister and stepsister, Christian, who died in 2009 at age 13, spent much of the last year of his life locked in a three-foot-high dog cage, with little food and drink and few opportunities to leave. When he did get out of the cage, he endured savage beatings from his father Riley.
One night in April of 2009, Christian was too weak to keep his food down. His father allegedly beat him to the point of unconsciousness, then locked his limp body in the cage.
The next morning, his sister Christina found him dead.
According to investigators, Riley then buried the boy in a shallow grave, covered his body in concrete, and moved with Christina to Kentucky, where he threatened to harm her if she ever told anyone about his death. It would be two years before his body was found.
One of the reasons his absence wasn't noticed was that his stepmother, Kimberly Kubina, took him out of school, saying that he was being home-schooled.
The extent of that homeschooling was revealed in some letters found by DCS. When other children were out playing, Kubina would give Christian paper and tell him to write.
"Christian wrote of why nobody liked him and how he just wanted to be liked by his family," a DCS document wrote, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "Christian stated that he wanted to die because nobody liked the way he 'acted.' Christian's writings detail a very sad, depressed child who often wondered when someone, anyone, was going to come check on him and give him food or liquid. Christian often stated he was hungry or thirsty."
In a still more disturbing twist, the Northwest Indiana Times reveals some of the assignments his stepmother gave:
Kubina wrote topics on top of some of the pages including, "Why do you want to play with your peter? Why do you still want to see your mom? Why can't you let the past go? What does it mean to be part of a family?" DCS records state.
Riley Choate and Kimberly Kubina have been charged with murder, battery, neglect of a dependent, confinement, obstruction of justice, moving a body from a death scene and failure to notify authorities of a dead body. They have both pleaded not guilty.