Florida authorities say they’ve found the remains of Gannon Stauch, an 11-year-old boy who was missing for five weeks before prosecutors in Colorado Springs charged his stepmother with murder.
The remains were discovered by Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office on March 18, but details about the discovery including where the remains were found were not released in a statement from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. Santa Rosa County is on the Florida panhandle, east of Pensacola.
Sgt. Rich Aloy, a spokesman for the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office, did not immediately return a voicemail seeking details on where the remains were found.
An autopsy was performed by a medical examiner there, who tentatively identified the remains as Gannon, according to the statement.
The discovery offers a grim resolution to a search that captivated the the Pikes Peak region and it represents a new blow to Gannon’s parents.
“They were still holding out hope that Gannon would come home alive, despite the original charges that we filed in this case,” said lead prosecutor Michael Allen.
The announcement came as the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office announced the filing of additional charges against Letecia Stauch, bringing the number of charges against the boy’s stepmother to 13.
The added charges include counts alleging Letecia Stauch used a gun, a blunt instrument and a knife or other sharp object to kill Gannon, court documents show.
A second charge of first-degree murder was also filed, under a new theory that she planned to kill Gannon and did so after deliberation.
Prosecutors previously charged her with first-degree murder, under the condition that she knowingly caused his death.
The additional charges come nearly three weeks after authorities arrested Letecia Stauch in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Her arrest March 2 marked a turning point in the five-week search for Gannon, pivoting from a missing persons case to a murder prosecution.
Authorities declined to say how they connected Letecia Stauch to the boy’s apparent death and her arrest affidavit is sealed. But Allen previously said “tons” of video footage, obtained from cellphone and other sources, as well as more than 1,000 pages of law enforcement reports and at least 107 search warrants have been generated thus far.
Since the material has not been made available to the defense, the judge set an April 14 review hearing to address the next steps in the case. The judge could decide then whether the investigative materials will be made public or if they will remain sealed.
In-custody cases will be heard despite the court restrictions on cases amid the coronavirus outbreak, Allen said. A gag order limits pretrial statements in the case.
Letecia Stauch reported Gannon missing Jan. 27, saying he had gone to visit a friend. He was initially considered a runaway, but three days later, sheriff’s deputies reclassified him as missing and endangered.
During the five-week search that ended with murder charges, the boy’s stepmother repeatedly denied wrongdoing, saying she had been unfairly treated as a suspect by sheriff’s deputies.
After she was arrested in South Carolina, she waived her right to fight extradition and was taken to the El Paso County jail, where she remains held without bail.
Authorities are asking anyone who saw Letecia Stauch in Pace or Pensacola, Fla., between Feb. 3-5, to call the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at (719) 520-6666 or email [email protected].
The Gazette’s Lance Benzel contributed to this story.