Remains of missing Colorado boy Gannon Stauch, 11, found in Florida; stepmom charged with murder
Letecia became a suspect after surveillance video taken from a neighbor's home captured her leaving with Gannon in her pickup truck
Colorado police officials announced on March 20 afternoon that the human remains found in Florida have been "tentatively identified" as 11-year-old Gannon Stauch, who went missing from Colorado Springs on January 27.
The news came as the boy's stepmother, 36-year-old Letecia Stauch, was booked into the El Paso County jail earlier in March on counts of first-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death, tampering with a deceased human body and tampering with evidence, reports state.
On March 18, Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office in Florida reportedly contacted the El Paso County Sheriff's Office about the human remains which were found in Pace, north of Pensacola. A subsequent autopsy was performed on the body by the District One Medical Examiner, which led to Friday's announcement.
A press release from the sheriff's office stated: "We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Gannon," the Daily Mail reported.
Gannon's stepmother was arrested on March 2 in South Carolina and was later extradited to Colorado. She faces charges of murder of a child under 12 years of age by a person in a position of trust. Letecia had initially told authorities that she last saw Gannon between 3.15 pm and 4 pm on January 27 and claimed that he was going to a friend's house in Colorado Springs.
After the stepmother's account, the 11-year-old was originally categorized as a runaway. However, authorities later upgraded his case to that of a missing or endangered person. However, the day officials arrested Letecia in South Carolina, they announced that they suspect the child is not alive. Police have not yet revealed what exactly happened to Gannon.
In a statement released on March 20, the child's father, Albert, said he was shocked by the news and called the crime "heinous". "My little boy is not coming home. We will never play Nintendo again. No more taco Tuesdays. No more smooth-looking hair cuts. And no more G-man for the world," he said. "The person who committed this heinous, horrible crime is one that I gave more to anyone else on this planet, and that is a burden that I will carry with me for a very long time."
Letecia became a suspect after surveillance video taken from a neighbor's home captured her leaving the home with Gannon. She left in her pickup truck at 10.13 am on January 27. She, however, returned at 2.19 pm but her stepson was not with her. Officials said there was no footage available which showed Gannon coming in or leaving the house after 2.19 pm.
A friend of Gannon's father said that after Albert watched the video he "just broke down and started saying 'she lied, she lied about the time'." In an interview before her arrest, Letecia insisted that she was not involved in the boy's disappearance.
"I took care of Gannon for the last two years in our home because his mother didn't want to do it," she told KKTV. "I would never ever, ever hurt this child... these people have these conspiracy theories... I'm like: 'Why are you saying Gannon is dead?' He is not dead. We are going to find Gannon."
During Letecia's initial court appearance on March 11 in El Paso County, prosecutors said they have not ruled out the possibility of pursuing the death penalty against her.