After two years of silence, a scared Christina Choate called her stepsister to tell of how her brother died. Her stepsister, Alyssa Nieto, notified other adults.
A troubling investigation unearthed the secret many may have kept about Christian Choate's life before his 2009 death.
At least 13 people may have known Christian was beaten for years and locked in a cage for as long as one year, according to the Times of Northwest Indiana. Lake County authorities found the boy's body buried under a shed in Gary's Black Oak section in May, two years after his death.
The paper examined Indiana Department of Child Services documents involving Christian and spoke with relatives and neighbors.
Riley Choate, Christian's father, admitted to burying his son after his daughter, Christina, called to tell him his son was dead.
"If I had to do it over, I'd have just called," Choate told investigators. "I was freaking out."
Christian's father and stepmother, Kimberly Kubina, pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges related to Christian's death.
Christina Choate told the Times she watched her father beat her brother and did it herself.
"I did it because if I didn't listen to [Choate and Kubina] I was going to get beat," said the teen.
The children of Jessica Hamby, Kubina's sister, also witnessed the abuse, said Hamby. However, fear kept her daughter from telling anyone. Kubina threatened one of Hamby's children by saying "she would do to her what she did to Christian," court records revealed.
A former neighbor, Lori Wingard, told the Times she called DCS twice to investigate her suspicions of what was happening in the Choate-Kubina household.
However, Wingard disputed the record that a caseworker went inside the house claiming she watched the woman interact with Kubina.
"Kim came out of the house and stood there at the sidewalk and talked to the lady, and I just remember thinking, 'Go inside,' said Wingard."
A gag order prevented DCS officials from commenting on Wingard's story.