DCS opens investigation after police unearth remains

2011-05-05T19:10:00Z 2011-07-01T18:36:26Z DCS opens investigation after police unearth remainsBy Marisa Kwiatkowski marisa.kwiatkowski@nwi.com, (219) 662-5333 nwitimes.com

GARY | The Indiana Department of Child Services opened its assessment into Christian Choate after police found remains buried in Gary, officials said Thursday.

Police found the body, believed to be the 13-year-old boy, in a shallow grave Wednesday night in a mobile home park north of Ridge Road and Colfax Avenue in Gary. Authorities are awaiting the results of DNA testing to confirm his identity, but police said it appears the remains are Christian's.

"All signs point to the worst-case scenario," DCS spokeswoman Ann Houseworth said.

Houseworth said DCS did not have any open investigations into Christian's family in April 2009, which is when authorities believe the boy died.

It's unclear why no one reported Christian missing or dead until two years after his disappearance.

Riley Choate, Christian's father, was charged Thursday with felony removal of a body from a death scene and misdemeanor counts of failure to notify authorities of the discovery of a dead body and failure to report a dead body, Lake Criminal Court records show.

Kim Choate, Christian's stepmother, also is being questioned about Christian's death but has not been charged, police said. She is in custody for an unrelated warrant out of Kentucky.

Houseworth said Christian's siblings and other children involved in the case were taken into protective custody.

She said Indiana authorities also are in touch with their counterparts in Kentucky to arrange any assessment or protection needed for the child out there.

Christian's older sister, who still is a juvenile, is believed to be living in Kentucky.

Christian's sister is the one who reported Christian's death to her biological mother. Her mother, in turn, contacted local authorities, who initiated their investigation.

That investigation led to Wednesday's discovery of the remains.

DCS Director James Payne said the agency's No. 1 priority is the safety of the children in its custody. He said officials would prefer to leave the children in their home or with relatives but must evaluate any risk to the children first.

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