Colorado authorities said Monday afternoon that they don’t think 11-year-old Gannon Stauch is alive as they announced several charges, including murder and child abuse, against the boy’s stepmother.
Letecia Stauch told authorities that she last saw her stepson, Gannon, between 3.15pm and 4pm on January 27. She said at the time that he was heading to a friend’s house in Colorado Springs.
Gannon was originally categorized as a runaway, before his case was upgraded to that of a missing/endangered person.
‘We do not believe Gannon is alive,’ Lt Mitch Mihalko said during a Monday afternoon press conference, as Gannon’s mother, Landen Hiott, and family members were overcome with emotion directly behind him.
‘Our work is only just beginning…as we continue our relentless pursuit of justice for Gannon and his family,’ Mihalko added.
Authorities said Gannon’s body has not been found.
El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder said Stauch was taken into custody without incident just after 8am in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
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Letecia Stauch (left), the stepmother of missing Colorado boy, Gannon Stauch (right), has been arrested in connection with the 11-year-old’s disappearance
Stauch (left) was arrested on suspicion of murder. Shortly after her arrest, the sheriff’s office tweeted that they will hold a press conference at noon at Centennial Hall to ‘announce a major development in the Gannon Stauch (right) case’
Stauch is being held without bond at the J Reuben Long Detention Center in Horry County, South Carolina.
She will be kept there until she’s extradited to Colorado where she will face first-degree murder of a child under 12 years of age by a person in a position of trust, child abuse resulting in death, tampering with a deceased human body and tampering with physical evidence.
Gannon’s mother, Landen Hiott, gave a statement through tears during the press conference.
‘I never thought I’d be standing here. It’s a nightmare. Justice will be served and I’ll make sure that justice is served because my boy did not deserve any of this that has happened to him,’ Hiott said.
‘So I urge media one more time just to hold off on questions until we know this person, this stepmom, that I even trusted that she will pay 100 per cent for this heinous thing.
‘I want to live this earth knowing that justice was served for my boy.
Hiott went on to say that Gannon is ‘not only my hero now; he’s the world’s hero’.
‘I know my boy is special and this is his story. So make that story magnificent. Thank you for allowing Gannon to be your hero and sharing him with us,’ she added.
Gannon was reported missing two months ago by Stauch, who is married to his father, Albert.
During the press conference on Monday, officials read a statement from Albert.
‘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.
‘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,’ Albert wrote.
Surveillance video from a neighbor’s home captured Letecia leaving the home with Gannon in her pickup truck at around 10.13am on January 27.
However, when she returned at 2.19pm, Gannon is nowhere to be seen
Footage from 2.19pm to the time Gannon was reportedly last seen is not available, but the sheriff’s office said earlier that officers had no surveillance video showing the boy leaving the property.
Gannon (left and right) was reported missing two months ago by his stepmother, who is married to his father, Albert
Surveillance footage shared by a neighbor allegedly shows Gannon entering a car with his stepmother that morning but not returning with her that afternoon (pictured). However, when she returned at 2.19pm, Gannon is nowhere to be seen
Roderrick Drayton, the neighbor whose camera picked up the footage, told ABC News that Gannon’s father broke down in tears after he saw the video.
Drayton said when he showed the clip to Albert, he burst into tears and accused his wife of ‘lying’ about Gannon walking to a friend’s house.
‘[Albert Stauch] just broke down crying and said: “She lied, she lied about the time. He didn’t go to a friend’s house”.’
After news of the video broke, Letecia gave an interview to KKTV, insisting that she played no part in her stepson’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 said.
‘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.’
Law enforcement and volunteers (pictured) have spent nearly five weeks searching snowy areas for the 11-year-old boy
Keith Lonnquist and Reggie Franklin (left to right), with El Paso County Search & Rescue, launch a drone to search an area for Gannon on February 2
J.R. Betts, with El Paso County Search & Rescue, goes through a pile of rubbish near Drennan Rd. in the Lorson Ranch area near Gannon’s home in Colorado Springs
A prayer wall was filled with handwritten prayers by those attending a vigil in the Lorson Ranch neighborhood for Gannon on January 29
In a statement to KDVR, Letecia insisted that her stepson was, in fact, in her vehicle when they returned home from a shopping trip that afternoon, but he got out from the side of the truck facing away from the neighbor’s camera.
On Friday, the El Paso Sheriff’s Office called off a planned search for the 11-year-old.
No explanation was given for the cancellation of Friday’s search and a spokesperson from the sheriff’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.
But on Saturday Colorado authorities continued their search along a stretch of highway.
Footage shows volunteers poking at the snow and ice with shovels near Highway 105 and Highway 83.
No information was given on what the search was looking for.
‘As we have explained throughout this investigation, this is a very fluid investigation & it can change at any minute of the day,’ the sheriff’s office tweeted on Thursday.
Gannon’s mother, Landen Hiott, claims her son would never run away from his family
Hiott (pictured) has continued to share Gannon’s story and has described him as a jokester who loves making everyone happy
‘The scheduled search has been postponed. We will keep you in the loop as it happens & as we can release it. Our Tips to date are 801.’
Volunteers searching for Gannon since January used a slogan on many of the posters for the missing boy that reads: ‘Leave no stone unturned.’
In an interview with ABC News, Gannon’s mother, Landen Hiott, pleaded with the public for help in returning her son home.
‘I don’t want to wait another day,’ she said. ‘He is mommy’s little man. If he is not with me, he is hurting’.
Hiott added she is certain that her son would not run away.
She lives in South Carolina and said that as soon as she heard the news of her son’s disappearance, she flew into Colorado.
‘This is the longest time that I have not heard his voice, and the only thing I could do is just keep playing videos back and forth of: “Mommy, I love you,”‘ Hiott told ABC News.
‘When I heard that he ran away, I knew that was the first sign,’ she said.
‘Like, that is not my boy…100 per cent without a shadow of a doubt, my boy would not run away.’
Hiott has continued to share Gannon’s story and has described him as a jokester who loves making everyone happy.
‘I don’t know how to go forward without him,’ she told ABC News.
‘He’s my hero. He gives me life, he gives me energy. If a bad day is going bad, I just hear his voice and it makes it better.’
Gannon was last seen wearing a blue jacket, black jeans and sneakers.
He has brown eyes, brown hair, weight 90 pounds and stands around four-foot-nine.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office also said the boy needs medication but did not specify what the medication is for.
If you have any information as it relates to Gannon’s case, please call the Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at 719-520-6666 or email [email protected].