Cheryl A. Miller

Porter County Coroner Says a 52-year-old Woman and Her Estranged Husband were Found Shot to Death and Her House Burned

May 31, 2011

KOUTS, Ind. — The Porter County coroner says a 52-year-old woman and her estranged husband were found shot to death and her house was fully engulfed in flames in what appears to be a murder-suicide.

Coroner Chuck Harris says a preliminary examination indicates that Cheryl Miller and 59-year-old Frederick Miller both died of gunshot wounds. He says an autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Times of Munster and the Post-Tribune of Merrillville report that the couple's 19-year-old son escaped from the home in rural Kouts about 3 a.m. Tuesday after Frederick Miller threw a flammable device through a window in the house. The sheriff's department says the son called police and reported hearing several gunshots.

The sheriff's department says Frederick Miller was removed from the home by police in April.


Cheryl A. (Stevens) Miller, 52, of Kouts, passed away Tuesday, May 31, 2011. She was born October 10, 1958 in Valparaiso to Ronald N. and Margaret J. (Hineline) Stevens. She was a graduate of Valparaiso High School and had been the manager at Marti's Place at Ramsey's Landing in Hebron. Cheryl enjoyed designing and making jewelry as well as a variety of other arts and crafts, and she was an avid gardener. Survivors include her son, JJ Miller of Kouts; step daughter, Layla (Jeff) Morgan of San Diego, CA; her father, Ron Stevens of Valparaiso; one sister, Leslie (Bruce) Richart of Porter; two nieces, Rebecca (Anthony) Tharp and Annette Stevens; four nephews, Jeremiah, Joshua and Ryan Richart, and Travis Stevens. She was preceded in death by her mother, Margaret Stevens. A funeral service will be held on Saturday at 11:00 AM at Kosanke Funeral Home in Kouts with Pastor Jay Birky officiating. Visitation will be Friday from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the "Benefit of JJ Miller" account at DeMotte State Bank.

Alyssa Johnson

Formal Charges Filed in Baby Death Case

LaDawn Johnson is facing three charges

Wednesday, 15 Dec 2010, 10:51 AM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - The Allen Co. prosecutor has filed charges against LaDawn Johnson; she's a suspect in the death of her four-week-old baby.

Prosecutor Karen Richards has filed three felony charges against Johnson: Battery, Neglect of Dependent Resulting in Death, and Neglect of Dependent Resulting in Bodily Injury.

According to the Fort Wayne Police Department, around 8:30 a.m. Thursday, officers were called to the 5700 block of Fairfield Avenue where LaDawn Depree Johnson,25, arrived with her deceased infant.

One-month-old Alyssa Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene by medical personnel.

Police arrested LaDawn Johnson later that day.

After conducting an autopsy on the baby Thursday, the Allen County Coroner reported the child died as a result of a skull fracture with subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhage, or bleeding around the brain.

Police said a home in the 7900 block of Serenity Drive is also possibly related to the investigation.

Alyssa's death is Fort Wayne and Allen County's 26th homicide for 2010.


Indiana woman gets 40 years in daughter's death
Updated: May 16, 2011 3:03 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE - A northeastern Indiana woman has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for the beating death of her 4-week-old daughter.

The Journal Gazette reports that Allen County Judge John Surbeck sentenced 26-year-old LaDawn Johnson on Monday in the December death of her 29-day-old daughter, Alyssa. An autopsy found the infant died from a skull fracture and bleeding on her brain.

A jury convicted Johnson last month of battery causing death, neglect of a dependent causing death and neglect of a dependent causing injury in the child's death. During her trial, Johnson's 6-year-old son testified that he saw his mother punch the baby in the stomach repeatedly and heard her say the baby was ugly.

Rosemary Comanse

Husband Charged in Fatal Hammond Shooting

May 17, 2011

CROWN POINT | Lake County prosecutors have charged James Comanse, 48, with murder and battery in Sunday's shooting of his wife, Rosemary Comanse, "Rose."

Police were called about 3 p.m. to the 1100 block of West 177th Place in Hammond, where Rosemary Comanse, 47, was found dead from a gunshot wound.

Court documents filed Tuesday state witnesses told police James and Rosemary Comanse had been separated for about a year.

James Comanse was visiting the home Sunday, is believed to have gone up the stairs, and after about five minutes, others present at the time heard a loud boom, police said.

Police were told Comanse also struck another family member in the head with a gun before the gun could be taken away.

Police found Rosemary Comanse's body in an upstairs bedroom.

An autopsy found the woman died from a single gunshot wound to the back of the head at close range, court documents state.

Police confirmed the couple's son, James "Jimmy" Comanse Jr., pleaded guilty in 2009 to voluntary manslaughter in the death of 18-year-old Marcus Ponce.

The younger Comanse, 29, is serving a 20-year prison sentence for the crime.


ROSEMARY COMANSE, HAMMOND, IN. Rosemary Comanse (nee Serrano), age 47, of Hammond, passed away Sunday, May 15, 2011. She is survived by four children: James R. Jr., Brian A., Erik R., and Alyssa B. Comanse; five grandchildren: Tristin, Alyze, Mariah, Jayden, and Illiana; mother, Josephine Anaya; five sisters: Yolanda, Margaret, Rita, Violet, and Inez; and nieces and nephews. Visitation will be at Fife Funeral Home, 4201 Indianapolis Blvd., East Chicago on Friday, May 20, 2011 from 4:00-8:00 p.m. Cremation to follow. Rosemary was a loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother and sister. In lieu of flowers, donations to the family appreciated.

Christian Choate

Christian Choate

Dad, Stepmom Charged in Murder of Boy Found Under Concrete Slab

By Ruth Ann Krause, Chicago Sun-Times Media
May 11, 2011

Locked in a dog cage naked or chained to a bed frame, 13-year-old Christian Choate wouldn’t make much noise because if he did, the beatings would get worse.

The boy, found buried in a shallow grave near his former mobile home one week ago, had been abused for two to three years, police said.

Murder, battery, neglect of a dependent and criminal confinement charges were filed in Lake County, Ind. Tuesday against the boy’s father, Riley Lowell Choate, 39, of Hammond, and stepmother, Kimberly Leona Kubina, 45, of the Black Oak section of Gary. They will appear for initial hearings Wednesday morning.

Witnesses told police that Choate would slap Christian in the face after family members alleged Christian had molested a male relative. The beatings, which were witnessed by other children, grew more severe as Choate and his now ex-wife argued and Choate took it out on Christian, court records state.

When the family lived in the 7200 block of Polk Street in Merrillville, Choate and Kubina would lock Christian in a room in the basement. After the family moved to the Colfax Mobile Home Park in Black Oak, Riley put Christian in a dog cage bought from a neighbor and secured with seven locks. A witness told police Christian lived in the dog cage at their home in the 5900 block of West 36th Avenue every day for more than a year, until his death on April 5, 2009.

During that time, the boy’s parents would have his 17-year-old sister chain him to a bed frame that was leaning up against a dresser. The girl told police she was responsible for feeding Christian, taking him to the bathroom, forcing him to exercise or physically punishing him for failing to follow orders. She told police Choate would abuse her if she didn’t perform her duties properly.

“He needs to be locked up. He’s a dog,” Kubina told the other children, court records state.

Some beatings videotaped

As the beatings escalated, Christian would be denied food and confined naked except for a diaper, sometimes gagged with a sock and duct tape. The other children would try to sneak him food. Ice-cold baths twice a week would prompt his screams. The boy’s hands and feet began to turn purple from being tied to the bed frame.

The girl said she would strike the boy and once choked him until he turned blue, and used her stepmother’s video camera at Kubina’s direction to record the beatings. Those recordings were later recorded over, the girl said, but police searched Kubina’s home in Kentucky and recovered several computers, digital cameras, cell phones and other electronic storage devices.

On the day before Christian died, he refused to eat. His father became enraged and punched him in his head with full force several times before throwing him back in the cage, authorities said. On April 5, 2009, the girl told police she woke up and tried to feed her brother some cereal, but he refused, so she slapped him across the face twice and put him in the cage. She continued to check on him and eventually noticed he wasn’t breathing and called her stepmother and aunt, who had gone to pick up one of the other children who got in trouble at school. The girl said she attempted CPR on Christian with an air mattress pump.

At Kubina’s direction, the girl told police, she wrapped Christian in a yellow blanket, put him inside two black plastic bags and secured them in duct tape. Authorities alleged that Kubina and Choate buried the boy under a shed across the street from his former home in Black Oak. Police found the body under a layer of concrete, covered with lime and a Bible resting on his chest.

Cage meant for a dog

After the boy died, Kubina told the children Christian had run away, but a witness recalled Kubina asking Choate if he thought they would get caught. “What are you talking about?” Choate responded as he played racing games on the computer. “You know, the thing about Christian,” Kubina is quoted as saying.

Kubina told the children that Christian running away “is a family thing and we’re going to work through it. This goes to the grave,” court documents said.

Christian’s mother, Aimee Estrada, said she left Choate after he began abusing her. Choate had custody of their two children in July 2005, and Estrada said she was not allowed to visit her children after last seeing Christian in 2005. She contacted police May 1 after learning from her daughter that Christian had died.

Lori Wingard, the Choates’ former neighbor at Colfax Mobile Home Park, said Kubina approached her about buying the dog cage for $15. Wingard had sold her Alaskan malamute and the new owners weren’t taking the cage with them. When she learned the cage was used to confine Christian, Wingard said she cried and cried. “I had no idea,” she said.

On Tuesday, Choate pleaded not guilty to earlier charges of removal of a body from a death scene, failure to notify authorities of the discovery of a dead body and failure to report a dead body.

From the Huffington Post:

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....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.

'I want to die': Chilling letters of boy, 13, 'kept in dog cage and beaten to death by parents'

Christian's Biological Mother

Aimee Estrada, Christian's abused mom, was BLOCKED from seeing the children for years.  See the information on it here.  (SHE DID NOT GIVE UP CUSTODY OF HER CHILDREN, AN INDIANA JUDGE GAVE THE ABUSIVE FATHER, WHO WAS NOT HER HUSBAND, CHILD CUSTODY). She is currently seeking custody of the daughter, who is in the custody of the stepmother's family.

Bobbie Jo Schaefer

Husband held in stabbing death of wife

A Fountain Square area woman is dead, her husband under arrest and their daughter injured after a fatal domestic dispute Sunday afternoon.

May 2, 2011

Indianapolis — A Fountain Square area woman is dead, her husband under arrest and their daughter injured after a fatal domestic dispute Sunday afternoon.

Bobbie Jo Schaefer, 41, was found stabbed to death inside a home in the 1200 block of Evison Street. Kenneth Schaefer, 56, was listed in serious condition with self-inflicted stab wounds. One of the couple's daughters, a 15-year-old, received superficial stab wounds reportedly suffered while trying to fight off the attack on her mother.

Family members told Fox59 News that the couple, married 23 years, returned home from church early Sunday afternoon about two hours before one of the daughters call 911. The family said there had been domestic problems recently and an area resident who passed by the home earlier Sunday agreed.

"I heard 'em arguing back and forth," said Randi Wyatt. "I'm not sure exactly what about. I do know it wasn't sounding good. I just heard him calling her some crucial names and he says he was over the crap."

The couple lived on Evison Street for 15 years. Both daughters were enrolled in charter schools and an adult son is a Marine stationed in Pensacola, Florida. Schaefer continues recovering from his wounds at Wishard Memorial Hospital.