Colorado stepdad whose 7-year-old son's body was found 'encased in concrete' inside storage unit gets 72 years
DENVER, COLORADO: The stepfather of a seven-year-old has been sentenced to 72 years in prison after the child's body was found encased in concrete in a storage unit two years ago.
Leland Pankey, 40, was given the maximum sentence possible after he pled guilty in January to child abuse, which led to the death of seven-year-old, Caden McWilliams. His wife, Elisha Pankey had previously pleaded guilty to the same offense under a plea deal that needed her cooperation with the prosecutors. According to a Time report, Elisha faces between 16 and 32 years in prison when she is sentenced April 1.
According to Brinkwire, prosecutors had dropped the murder charge as they could not specify how the boy had died. They also added the deal avoided holding a trial as it would bring in "gruesome evidence and re-traumatize" Caden’s relatives. His autopsy showed signed proof of injuries to his head, limbs and chest and he weighed just 27 pounds at the time of his death.
The report also added Caden was remembered by his friends and teachers as a boy who loved dinosaurs and tinkering. District Attorney, Beth McCann said termed it as one of the most horrific cases handled by the DA's office. "Caden loved to tinker and figure out how things worked and his family believes he would likely have been an engineer if he was given the chance to reach adulthood," McCann said.
His body was found in December 2018 when there were investigations after Elisha alleged Pankey of domestic abuse. As per court records, she had told a fellow inmate that she and her husband had kept Caden in the carrier overnight despite his cries. She believed he had suffocated to death.
According to NY Daily News, "Both of those adults tortured that child," Denver Chief Deputy District Attorney Joe Morales said while requesting maximum prison time. Meanwhile, the authorities have not explained why Caden's last name differed from his parents, but it’s understood that Pankey is the stepfather.
A Sun report said Caden lived with his maternal grandmother, Martha McWilliams till he was five. Martha told the judge her daughter Elisha and Leland cut her and the rest of their family out of their lives in 2016 because McWilliams stopped giving them money because she suspected Elisha was addicted to painkillers.