A former Grand Canyon hiker who forced his three young grandsons to hike 19 miles through the Grand Canyon was found shot to death in an Indianapolis alley on Friday.
Christopher Carlson, 50, of Indianapolis, was found in an alley in the north side of the city. He had been shot multiple times and police do not have any suspects at this time, according to CBS News.
In 2012, Carlson was convicted of child abuse after he forced his three grandsons, then ages 8,9, and 12, to hike through the Grand Canyon for 19 miles with very little water and food. The abuse occurred in August, 2011.
Investigators believe Carlson made the young boys hike relentlessly through the heat and harsh conditions in the Grand Canyon because he believed they were overweight. The man was known as a radical health food supporter, and he thought the Grand Canyon trip would make the boys get into shape while eating little food and having little water.
According to one of the victims, the boys were physically abused during the hike in the Grand Canyon when they would slow down. One boy was hit in the face with a rock after he started slowing down when the grandfather wanted to get to the top of the Grand Canyon by sunset.
“I started crying and walking faster and he kicked me in the butt and said, `Run,”‘ the boy said.
One boy had severe blisters on his feet, which had not healed from a previous hike.
A ranger with binoculars saw the boys and their grandfather in the Grand Canyon on August 28, the same day a different man died on a separate trail from heat exposure. The ranger said Carlson was seen shoving the oldest boy. The grandfather also whipped him with a rolled-up T-shirt.
On that same day, the oldest victim secretly asked another hiker in the Grand Canyon to call 911. The boy was suffering from vomiting, severe cramping, and changes in his vision.
Rangers caught up with the boys after the long hike in the Grand Canyon and fed them, noting that one boy showed symptoms of heat stroke and the others had signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration. The boys also suffered from cuts and bruising.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first time this grandfather had abused these children, according to the middle child. The boy alleges the grandfather forced them to eat vegetables and fish the kids hid in their van. The food was covered in grime, but he made them eat it anyway. He allegedly made the boy eat broccoli after the boy tried to flush it down the toilet.
During the hike in the Grand Canyon, the grandfather would sip water from a jug and deny the grandchildren water most of the time. He allowed them to have small snacks, including celery, during the Grand Canyon hike.
Carlson’s defense attorney claimed that the kids thought Carlson’s well-intentioned health changes were child abuse, but in reality Carlson just had a firm hand and wanted the kids to become active and eat healthier.
Carlson said he may have been rough with the boys, but said no abuse occurred.
He said at sentencing, “I love my grandchildren greatly. I wanted to afford these children a beautiful opportunity at a young age to experience something magnificent.”
The jury didn’t buy the excuse and Carlson was sentenced to 27 months in prison. He served more than two years in prison, according to the Associated Press.
At the time of his death, Carlson is believed to have had two young children. They were unharmed and are in the care of a police Victim Assistance Unit. No more information about the abused grandchildren who suffered in the Grand Canyon is available.
[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images News]