There are bad parents. Parents who push their kids too hard and alienate them, parents who aren’t always there and end up ignoring their children as they grow, parents who overreach to protect and shelter their kids by asserting their control over random strangers; there are all kinds of rotten parents out there, but not all of them are outright abusive.

Parents who hit or hurt, whether for discipline or not, their kids are some of the lowest of the low, even if they would so claim to do it out of love or to raise their kids “right.”

Then there are the worst of the worst. Parents who kill their children. Ones who torment and degrade their children.

Some aren’t even the biological parent, which makes their abuse even worse, as they become a stranger in the child’s life.

It’s a miracle that any children of such parents can survive to adulthood, but there were no miracles to save him for young Christian Choate.


10 /10 Fallen Family

Christian was born to Riley Choat and Aimee Estrada. He had a sister named Christina. They all lived in Gary, Indiana, for a time, from 1995 until 2004, when the family was forced to split apart.

Christian claimed that his mother had molested him. This facilitated authorities to revoke all custody of the children, which placed them exclusively in their father’s hands and later their stepmother Kimberly Kubina.

Unfortunately, that did not provide him with a suitably safe home.


9 /10 Bad Dad

Riley Choat was a hardcore disciplinarian, to the point where his method of raising kids was deemed inappropriate in a prior investigation by the Indiana Department of Child Services, or DCS.

Riley was found to have been abusive toward two of his nieces at the time but was only issued a citation. The incident was mostly moved on by the time he retained full custody of his biological children.


8 /10 Wrong Mom

Christian’s stepmother Kimberly Kubina was no better. She was a very controlling and demanding woman who used the force of will to keep her family in line.

Kimberly had two sisters who both became aware of the abuse but did not directly intervene. One was Belinda Bradford, who lived in a trailer next door in Gary, Indiana.

The other was Jessica Hamby, whose daughters frequented the Choate home.

7 /10 Twisted Sister

Perhaps due to the forced upbringing they were put into, Christina became one of Christian’s tormentors at the behest of their father.

She also suffered abuse but managed to mitigate it by going along with what she was told to do so that most of the abuse would fall onto her brother instead.

She became Christian’s primary “warden” of sorts while he went through the worst of his torment in the year that led up to his death.

6 /10 Left Unsaid

There were plenty of people who knew something was wrong, even without getting the whole picture.

When Belinda caught Riley in the act of laying fists on Christian and leaving bruises, she threatened to go out of fear of what Riley would do next. For some time, Christian was allowed to try and function outside.

His pediatrician Dr. Chy-Koa treated him for depression and anxiety and was even told what happened but didn’t inform authorities over the fear of being the one person to break the silence while Riley was out and loose.

Lori Wingard, a neighbor to the abusive household, reported what she knew to the DCS, but she saw no agents enter to intervene directly even as she watched from her window.

5 /10 The Torture

Christian was beaten daily. When the bruises were too much to cover up, Choat and Kubina began “homeschooling” their children – all 10 of them – in the too-cramped home they had to share.

They were the de facto caretakers for their relatives, and they abused that trust routinely. When Christian stepped out of line for any reason, he was hit.

Eventually, they got fed up with even that and kept him in a dog cage, day after day, for over a year.

4 /10 Like A Dog

Christian was forced to live in a cramped dog cage for over a year. He was not allowed out of the house or to play with the other kids.

Riley kept the family in line by saying if anyone defied him, they’d end up like Christian. All the children inside knew what was going on, but none talked out of fear of that same punishment.

Christian ate nothing but dry instant noodles for breakfast and dinner. He was malnourished and dehydrated, and after months of staying in one position, his feet turned purple.

3 /10 Brother's Keeper

Christina was ordered to handle Christian, not unlike he was a dog. She would “exercise” him to keep his limbs from total atrophy and forced him to relieve himself outside of his cage.

When the urge was too great, he would soil his cell, the only place he could be in, which would mean another beating while it was cleaned. She also washed him with ice-cold water.

2 /10 Silent Cries

The only thing Christian was allowed to do was write. When he asked for something to do, assuming he wasn’t hit for speaking up, he was given a paper and pencil and was forced to write degrading things by his stepmother.

However, he also kept a running log for himself and upheld the pieces somewhere out of sight during the brief time he was out of his cage to clean the house.

He detailed the horror he was put through daily, even concluding that he wanted to die.


1 /10 A Call Too Late

Christian died in his cage and was buried later that day when Riley returned home from work. He went so far as to say no one would miss the boy.

It took two years for the disappearance to be noticed. An anonymous caller left a tip for the police to find a dead child right in the yard of the house he was tortured in.

Both parents were convicted for their crimes and sentenced to time in prison.

Suppose only that caller had spoken up beforehand, insisted, or even tricked someone into making a more thorough investigation. In that case, Christian could have lived to see a better life with better parents.

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