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Merrillville couple charged with murder in death of 10-year-old boy whose wounds were covered with makeup, court records say

April Wright

April Wright (Lake County Sheriffs Dept. / HANDOUT)

A Merrillville woman once convicted at 17 of tying and sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy at knifepoint now, with her wife, stands charged of killing her 10-year-old brother.

April Lynn Kuchta Wright and Rachel Rose Wright, both 26, on Oct 23 were each charged with one count of murder, Level 1 aggravated battery, Level 1 neglect of a dependent resulting in death and battery of a person less than 14 years old, a Level 6 felony, after Merrillville Police found Leviticus “Levi” Kuchta dead in their Fillmore Court home, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Levi, who had makeup covering puncture wounds on his face, was riddled with injuries in various degrees of infection and healing to his head, hands, arm, back, groin, leg and ankles, records said.

Rachel Wright

Rachel Wright (Lake County Sheriffs Dept. / HANDOUT)

Two of the injuries – a dislocated jaw and spine – rendered him unable to walk or talk before his death, records said.

Police were sent to the Wrights' home after they called 911 around 8 a.m. Oct. 12 because he was unresponsive, court records said. Levi, according to a relative who spoke to police, had been staying with the women after April Wright’s and his grandfather died in August, and April Wright volunteered to take care of him, records said.

Levi was in the grandparents' custody in the first place because his and April’s mother is in the Indiana Women’s Prison serving time for a drug conviction out of Porter County, court records said.

The couple told police Levi had fallen off his dirt bike either Oct. 9 or 10 and had been claiming he had a headache and back pain, but he wanted to ride it again on Oct. 11, records said. After he wrecked the bike a second time, they decided against taking him to the doctor, records said, because they said Levi was afraid the doctor would make him go back to live with his grandmother.

Police found a dirt bike on the side of the home under shrubs, court records indicate, but it didn’t start up when they tried and there was no evidence of a dirt bike path behind the home where they said he was riding it. Several neighbors told police that not only had they not seen him ride a dirt bike in the area, they hadn’t seen him outside often since July, records said.

A relative told police the grandmother had been trying to get Levi back from the couple before his death, but April Wright told her the boy had COVID-19, records said.

During a phone call to his mother in prison, Levi told her, “I want to go back to grandma’s house, and don’t tell them,” records said. When she asked what happened, he said Rachel Wright had grounded him from his PlayStation and repeated, “I want to go home.”

“His voice was very quiet, and he sounded scared,” court records said. “He told (his mother) that ‘Rachel won’t let me go home.’ He then whispered, ‘Please don’t tell them I told you.’”

In a separate call Oct. 9, April Wright said Levi “didn’t do his homework” and “got on her nerves,” court records said. Levi’s mother told her daughter that she could move Levi out if she couldn’t care for him.

Neighbors told police Child Protective Services had been to the residence many times over the past few years, records said.

April Kuchta Wright has had several brushes with the law after she served time. She pleaded guilty in December 2013 to a Class C felony charge of escape after she was moved to a community transition program for the 2011 crime and, in February of that year, cut the tracking device off her ankle. She left it in a trash can near the program’s office.

She was sentenced to four additional years in prison on the escape charge.

She was then charged in Porter County in December 2015 for a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession from Nov. 14 at Porter Regional Hospital, when staff there found a bag of marijuana in a purse in Kuchta’s hospital room, a police report said.

Michelle L. Quinn is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

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