On Jan. 27, 11-year-old Gannon Stauch vanished from his Colorado Springs home after staying home sick from Grand Mountain School.
More than four weeks later, there is still no sign of the fifth-grader, and his family and law enforcement were still looking for answers.
The FBI, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and 15 other agencies have joined the search. As of Feb. 24, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has received 768 tips.
On Jan. 27, Gannon’s stepmother, Letecia “Tecia” Stauch, told police the boy left his home between 3 and 4 p.m. to walk to a friend’s house. When he didn’t come home, Tecia said she called the sheriff and reported him as a runaway.
Gannon’s father Albert, an active-duty Army National Guardsman, flew home the following day from Oklahoma, where he had been training. Gannon’s biological mother, Landen Hiott, who lives in South Carolina, arrived soon afterward.
Three days later, the El Paso County Sherriff’s Office upgraded the search status from runaway to an endangered missing child. The reason for the change was due to the amount of time he was gone, his age, and medication he was taking at the time.
When Gannon was born, he weighed only 1 lb. 6 oz., and doctors gave him a 10 percent chance of survival. Family and friends marveled at how he grew from a “micro-preemie” to a gifted school student.
As soon as Gannon was reported missing, the community began to rally. Soon, neighbors replaced lights throughout the complex with blue bulbs—Gannon’s favorite color—and tied blue balloons and ribbon to trees “to help guide Gannon home,” says Salvation Army captain Caleb Fankhauser.
From early on, public suspicion swirled around Gannon’s stepmom, Leticia “Tecia” Stauch after a neighbor’s video surveillance surfaced that seemed to contradict what she told the police.
Initially, the sheriff’s office responded to the stepmom’s statement by saying they have no reason to believe the boy was kidnapped. But since then, the sheriff’s office has asked the public to notify them if they’ve seen a strange car in the Lorson Ranch neighborhood.
Step Mother Arrested
On March 2, Gannon’s stepmother was arrested on murder charges in the boy’s presumed death, authorities said.
Letecia “Tecia” Stauch was arrested in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and was being held without bond. She will eventually be extradited back to Colorado Springs.
She faces charges of murder in the first degree of a child under 12; child abuse resulting in death; tampering with a deceased human body and tampering with physical evidence, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder said in a press conference.
In a March 3 court appearance, Stauch stood handcuffed and shackled, appearing in an orange prison jumpsuit during her extradition hearing in Myrtle Beach.
“Evidence recovered from the residence and inside Gannon’s bedroom supports that a violent event occurred in the bedroom,” reads the affidavit, “which caused bloodshed, including blood spatter on the walls, and enough blood loss to stain his mattress, soak through the carpet, the carpet pad, and stain the concrete below his bed.”
On March 20, remains located in Florida were tentatively identified as belonging to Gannon.
El Paso County Sheriff says the office was contacted by the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office in Florida after that office responded to a call about a deceased juvenile male in Pace. After an autopsy, the remains were tentatively identified as Gannon’s.
According to newly unsealed court documents from April 2020, authorities believe Gannon Stauch was murdered in his bedroom by his stepmother — allegedly on the day she reported the 11-year-old boy missing.
Authorities allege the suspect discarded of the body the next day, after cleaning up the scene.