Chad, 8, was snatched from his bed while he was sleeping in his home where he lived with his family on October 31, 1991. Chad’s older sister told police investigators that her house keys had gone missing the day before; she recalled leaving them by the back door to their residence. Local police interviewed various individuals-including Patrick Horn, who was a family friend and who had been at the family’s house on October 12th. Finding no evidence of forced entry or struggle, officers initially treated the case as if Choice had run away.
Two days after Chad’s disappearance, a ransom note was found at the business of Chad’s uncle, Greg Sterling, and the investigation immediately shifted to one of kidnapping. When the family attempts to deliver the money at a Greyhound Bus Station, the kidnapper is a no show.
Several days later Chad’s mother received an anonymous phone call stating that Chad’s disappearance was related to a family member’s drug debt to a man named Paco. Investigators learned that Greg Sterling owed money to three Colombian drug dealers operating in the area, Paco, Junior, and Carlos.
On the one-year anniversary of Chad’s disappearance, his mother, Karen Choice, finds a note flapping on her car windshield. The note claims Chad is still alive and demands $6,000 for his safe return. Once again, the investigation heats up and the Choice family hopes and prays they’ll see Chad again. The investigation is dealt a blow when the kidnapper fails to make contact, and the case, again, slips into the cold files.
Three years later, on the fourth anniversary of Chad’s death, the Choice family finds a skull in a plastic grocery sack on their doorstep. Their worst fears are confirmed when forensics determines the skull is that of Chad. Investigators struggle to understand what sort of a person kills and then continues to taunt the victim’s family for years.
On May 31, 1996, Patrick Horn was scheduled to be sentenced in federal court for some credit union robberies and carjacking charges. On that date, the federal district court judge told Patrick Horn that he was aware that authorities thought he might know something about Chad’s disappearance and advised Patrick to consult with his attorney about what he might know and whether he might be able to get immunity in his help with the case.
Patrick Horn, was actually the kidnapper and murderer of Chad. On the night he kidnapped Chad, he shot and killed him and buried him in a shallow grave behind his house. It took 5 years for the murder of Chad to be solved.
That wasn’t the end of the torment of Chad’s family. After he was convicted and sentenced to death, he refused to sign the waiver to release Chad’s remains to his family for a proper burial. By law he has to agree to allow the remains to be released being as they were part of the evidence in his case. He wanted to continue to have control over the family of 8 year-old Chad.
Patrick Horn was 17 years old when he kidnapped and murdered Chad. Under a ruling in the United State Supreme Court anyone under the age of 18 can’t be executed. His sentenced was changed to life in prison. We will never have to worry about Patrick Horn getting out of prison. He’s serving 2 life sentences. When he finishes one, he has another to do. That’s impossible to do, but the family of Chad Choice and rest knowing he will never walk free.