Body found in Florida tentatively ID’ed as slain Colorado 11-year-old Gannon Stauch

The remains of a Colorado 11-year-old last seen leaving his home with his stepmother -- who has been charged with killing him -- were found Wednesday in the Florida Panhandle, authorities said.

"The El Paso County Sheriff's Office was contacted by the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office stating they responded to a call of a deceased juvenile male in Pace, Florida," El Paso, Colorado, officials said in a statement. "An autopsy was performed by the District One Medical Examiner and the deceased male has been tentatively identified as Gannon Stauch.

“We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Gannon.”

Credit: El Paso County Sheriff's Office

Credit: El Paso County Sheriff's Office

The Denver Post reported that Gannon's parents, Al Stauch and Landen Hiott, declined to comment publicly about the discovery.

"Gannon's family has asked that there be no comment at this time as they absorb this latest news," family spokeswoman Cynthia Coffman said, according to the Post.

The newspaper reported that Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office officials said the boy's remains were found by a Florida Department of Transportation crew doing roadwork under the Escambia River Bridge along U.S. 90 in Pace, located just north of Pensacola.

The spot is about 1,400 miles from Colorado Springs and about 700 miles from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where Gannon's stepmother, Letecia Stauch was arrested March 2 in connection with his death.

Stauch, 36, was initially charged with first-degree murder of a child under 12 by a person of trust, child abuse resulting in death, tampering with a body and tampering with physical evidence. She has since been extradited back to Colorado and jailed in the El Paso County Jail.

She remained there Monday. Stauch, who is next due in court April 14, is being held without bail.

Credit: Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette via AP

Credit: Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette via AP

Michael Allen, senior deputy district attorney for Colorado's 4th Judicial District, said Friday during a news conference that additional charges have been leveled against Stauch. Those charges include one count of first-degree murder after deliberation and eight counts of committing a crime of violence.

The crimes-of-violence charges accuse Stauch of using a firearm, a blunt instrument and/or a knife or other sharp object to cause Gannon’s death. It was not made clear which, if any, of those weapons had been used against the boy.

A conviction of first-degree murder would mean life in prison without parole for Stauch. The crimes of violence charges would enhance any sentence she might receive if convicted of killing her stepson.

Click here to watch Friday's news conference with prosecutor Michael Allen, courtesy of KRDO in Colorado Springs. Read the amended complaint against Letecia Stauch below. 

Allen declined to discuss the circumstances of how Gannon died, citing the need to protect the integrity of the investigation. Details regarding the discovery of his body are also being kept out of the public eye, and the affidavit detailing investigators' case has been sealed by the court.

"Please understand this development does not mean the investigation comes to an end," Allen said. "This still remains a very active investigation, so if anyone has any credible tips, please contact the El Paso County Sheriff's Office tip line at 719-520-6666 or email those tips to tips@elpasoco.com."

Stauch’s arrest came five weeks after law enforcement officers from well over a dozen local, state and federal agencies, including the FBI, began searching through frigid temperatures and feet of snow for the boy, who was initially considered a potential runaway.

Within days, Gannon’s status was updated to missing and endangered. The boy’s age and medication he was required to take factored into that status change.

‘She lied. He didn’t go to a friend’s house.’

Letecia Stauch told investigators she last saw her stepson between 3:15 and 4 p.m. Jan. 27 at their home in the Lorson Ranch neighborhood of Colorado Springs. ABC News reported last month, however, that surveillance footage from a neighbor's home appears to show Gannon leaving the home that morning -- with Stauch.

The footage, which neighbor Roderrick Drayton shared with local and national news outlets, appeared to show Stauch back her truck out of the driveway at 10:13 a.m., at which point Gannon appeared to walk outside slowly and get into the back seat before she drove away.

Drayton's footage appeared to show Stauch return home at 2:19 p.m. that day without her stepson. El Paso County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jackie Kirby told ABC News on Feb. 4 that investigators had been provided with a copy of the video.

Drayton told the news network he also showed the video to Gannon’s father, Al Stauch.

“He just broke down crying and said, ‘She lied. She lied about the time. He didn’t go to a friend’s house,’” Drayton said.

Letecia Stauch gave a Jan. 31 interview to KKTV in Colorado Springs, during the first week Gannon was missing, in which she denied harming the boy.

"I am going to be so ecstatic when I am able to say to people that they should have a really sincere apology for all of these theories that have come out online," she told the news station. "For all the things that people have said I have done or people have done."

Shortly after giving the interview, Stauch, who claimed she and her family had been receiving death threats, left Colorado and went to her native South Carolina. It was there that she was taken into custody March 2.

Watch law enforcement officials and Gannon Stauch’s mother speak earlier this month, courtesy of KMGH in Denver.

Allen was asked Friday how Gannon’s family is holding up following the news that his body had been found.

"We met with the family earlier today, and obviously they're distraught with this information," the prosecutor said. "They were still holding out hope that Gannon would come home alive, despite the original charges that we filed in this case, and they're struggling, and they rightfully would be considering the circumstance of this case."

Hiott, the boy’s mother, spoke to the media through tears earlier this month, calling her son her hero. She vowed that justice would be served for Gannon.

"I'll make sure that justice is served, because my boy did not deserve any of this that has happened to him," she said.

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