Gannon Stauch didn’t have an easy start in life. Born prematurely and weighing just 1lb and 6oz doctors feared he wouldn’t make it and gave him just a 10% shot at survival. Against the odds Gannon grew up strong, even dodging the health issues that professionals predicted he would have if he managed to pull through. He excelled at school.
Gannon’s parents, Eugene Albert Stauch and Landen Hiott, would go on to separate and his father would eventually remarry.
Around 7PM on January 27th, 2020, Gannon Stauch’s stepmother, Letecia Stauch, 36, reported him missing to the local authorities. She told them that the 11-year-old, who had stayed off sick from Grand Mountain school that day, went out on foot at around 3:15 PM to visit a friend in the local Lorson Ranch area. Police initially logged Gannon Stauch’s disappearance as a runaway case and searched the local area, focusing on local bodies of water, but turned up nothing. For the next three days people in the community searched on foot and horseback but there was no trace of the neighborhood boy. The case status changed from runaway to missing and endangered as Gannon did not have his medication and had now been missing over 48 hours in winter weather conditions.
Gannon’s mother was always 100% sure that her son would never run away of his own accord.
“100% without a shadow of a doubt my boy would not run away” she said in a heart-breaking interview with ABC News.
She went on to describe how she would play videos of Gannon telling her he loved her repeatedly and vowed to keep his story alive until he came home, no matter how long it would be. “He has to come home”.
The community in Fountain, Colorado tied blue ribbons and balloons to trees and switched out the light bulbs on their porches to blue lights to guide the missing child home. His favourite character was Sonic the Hedgehog and his favourite colour was blue. His stepmother made an appeal on local news stations urging him to come home. Gannon had plans to go and see the new Sonic the Hedgehog movie in the theatre with his father and Letecia had bought him a T-shirt with the Sega character on it to wear on the day.
Gannon’s father, Albert Stauch, who is an Army National Guardsman on active duty, flew home from his training camp after hearing the news of his missing child and Gannon Stauch’s biological mother, Landen, soon followed.
CCTV from a neighbor's house would later serve to contradict the story Letecia had initially told police. The footage showed Letecia and Gannon leaving the family home at around 10:30 AM on the day the child went missing. The pair are recorded getting into a truck together and Letecia later returned to the home alone at around 2:29Pm that same afternoon.
“When I saw it, it was crazy shocking. Until then, I thought he had just gone missing. The whole neighborhood is full of cameras so if he had gone missing, somebody would have seen him walking” the neighbor commented.
After viewing the footage suspicions fell on Letecia Stauch. Police asked the public to report any possible sightings of the 36-year-old in the Pensacola / Pace area between February 3 – February 6.
Over two months after Gannon was reported missing, the body of a child was found stuffed into a suitcase beneath an underpass in Florida. Construction workers from the Department of Transportation road crew reported the grisly discovery under the bridge on U.S 90 near the Escambia River between 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM. The location of the body was 1400 miles from where Gannon Stauch was last sighted with his Stepmother in Colorado Springs.
Letecia Stauch was later arrested on March 2nd in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She would go on to be charged with multiple offences including 1st degree murder, child abuse resulting in death and tampering with a deceased body. An autopsy would later officially identify the body of the child as Gannon Stauch and determine that the child had been stabbed, shot and strangled before being dumped at the underpass.
A few days after her arrest, the suspect managed to get out of her handcuffs and began attacking one of the officers who was driving her from South Carolina to Oklahoma in what is believed to be an escape attempt.
Media outlets soon began to report on Letecia Stauch’s criminal history and detailed a list of crimes stretching back as far as 2001. Car theft, minor traffic offences and domestic abuse were amongst the crimes committed over multiple states and records showed that the suspect had gone through a couple of name changes over the years. Letecia worked as a teacher but had recently quit, due to what she claimed was bullying and harassment, a claim the district said was unsubstantiated.
Just three days after the arrest Eugene Albert Stauch filed for divorce.
If convicted with first degree murder, Letecia Stauch will spend life in prison without the possibility of parole. The details of the murder and the suspects motivation have not been released. Gannon Stauch will be buried in South Carolina where he grew up.