A former Colorado Springs Police Department investigator took the stand Thursday during the preliminary hearing for Letecia Stauch, a Colorado stepmother accused of killing her 11-year-old stepson, Gannon Stauch.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Stauch is accused of murdering Gannon in January 2020, while his father was away on a work trip. For months, Stauch denied the accusations and claimed that a stranger abducted the boy from their residence after sexually assaulting her. Stauch later claimed that an area sex offender stopped her in her vehicle and kidnapped Gannon.
Police arrested Stauch in March 2020. Weeks later, a construction worker found Gannon’s body stuffed inside a suitcase and thrown under a bridge in Pace, Florida.
At the time of Gannon’s disappearance, witness Kevin Smith was hired as an investigator for CSPD, due to his experience with investigating GPS and cellphone tracking.
On January 28, a day after Gannon had been reported missing, GPS tracking placed Stauch’s VW Tiguan leaving her Colorado Springs home at around 8:13 a.m. and arriving at the airport shortly after. At 8:41, she rented a white Kia Rio from Budget at the airport. Around an hour later, she picked up Gannon’s father, Al Stauch, from the airport, according to Smith.
Stauch previously told CrimeOnline that she rented an economical car to search for Gannon in. She added that she also didn’t want him to recognize her own vehicle and hide from her.
At 7 p.m. that evening, Stauch returned the rental car, then got into her Tiguan and put her phone in airplane mode, Smith testified. Location data placed Stauch at Falcon Road later that night, but investigators didn’t find anything of interest in the area.
Afterward, Stauch allegedly traveled to the Palmer Lake area in Douglas County. Smith said Stauch’s phone stayed in airplane mode for two hours until she arrived at a Hilton hotel in Briargate. Her phone then connected to Hilton’s WiFi, followed by a connection at a nearby Starbucks.
With a WiFi connection in place, Stauch contacted her daughter, Harley, who was 17 at the time and worked at Massage Envy in Colorado Springs. The pair talk for close to an hour before Stauch drove to Massage Envy and met up with her daughter.
Smith said Stauch left her Tiguan at Massage Envy parking lot at around midnight, after meeting Harley there. Smith said Harley’s phone didn’t ping at Massage Envy at the time, but when Harley arrived, she allegedly picked her mother up and drove away.
Smith then told the court that GPS tracking on another rented car, a Nissan Altima, indicated that the vehicle traveled on Highway 105 and Prairie Park Road on January 31, a few days after Gannon was reported missing.
Smith said that an aunt who rented the Altima confirmed that Stauch did have access to the vehicle. Smith said Stauch’s aunt, stepsister, stepbrother, and mother arrived in Colorado Springs from South Carolina and rented the car after investigators seized Stauch’s VW Tiguan and Harley’s car.
The following morning, on February 3, Stauch allegedly rented a van and bought a Verizon phone at Walmart. She then drove over 1,0000 miles to Pace with her daughter. Smith said security footage, cellphone data, and receipts placed Harley with her mother in Florida.
On February 4 at around 10:38 a.m., Stauch and Harley checked into a room at the Candlewood Suites in Pensacola. At 4:30 a.m. the following morning, the van travels a little under three miles to the Pace Bridge.
The pair then checked out of the hotel, went to Orlando, then drove to South Carolina, where Stauch is originally from, Smith said.
Smith confirmed that the only two people involved in the case investigation are Stauch and her daughter. Harley, however, has not been criminally charged.
Next up, Sgt. Patrick Younkin with El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, who was dispatched on the initial report about Gannon’s disappearance, talked the stand.
Check back for updates.
What Happened to Gannon?
Last year, prosecutors said in a 32-page affidavit that that “probable cause exists to believe that” Letecia Stauch murdered her stepson. Text messages and Internet searches indicate that Stauch may have possibly been overwhelmed with taking care of Gannon.
Search queries allegedly found on Stauch’s phone included, in part:
- find real military singles
- parenting should be 4 people, not one
- ‘im doing all the work for my stepkids and their mom doesnt help
- I wonder if my husbands wife is sending me a card since I. raise. her. kids
- why should my husband choose me over family
- one day some people will wish. they treated you differently
- find me a rich guy who. wants me to take care of his kids
“Based on Letecia’s internet history, it’s reasonable to believe she was unhappily married to Mr. Stauch and had some degree of resentment toward the family as a stepparent,” the affidavit read. “Furthermore, days before Gannon’s murder, Letecia appeared to be researching a move to another state to a two-bedroom apartment.”
Stauch was the sole caregiver at the time of the boy’s disappearance and death. Gannon lived with Stauch and his father at the time of his death.
Al Stauch was on a work trip with the U.S. National Guards in Oklahoma when his son vanished. Gannon’s biological mother, Landen Hiott, was in South Carolina. Gannon’s body was found months later, under a bridge in Pace, Florida.
According to the affidavit, Stauch brutally attacked and killed Gannon inside his bedroom on January 27, 2020. Despite a neighbor who said his video showed Stauch leaving with Gannon that morning and later returning home alone, investigators believe that “Gannon likely did return home with Letecia that afternoon,” and died inside the residence.
Evidence from inside Gannon’s bedroom includes blood spatter on the walls, blood that soaked through the carpet, 50 droplets of blood on the wall, blood on wall sockets, and blood on the boy’s mattress.
“Based on the orientation of Gannon’s bed, the vast majority of the blood would be in line with the position of his head and torso,” the affidavit read.
A store receipt obtained by investigators showed a purchase for baking soda, a carpet cleaner, and trash bags on January 27, after 6 p.m. Investigators obtained Stauch’s phone and according to text messages, she instructed her 17-year-old daughter to buy the items for her.
Prosecutors allege that Stauch used the purchased items to clean up the crime scene. Investigators said the 17-year-old was likely not present when Gannon was killed.
Letecia Stauch is facing charges of:
- Murder in the First-Degree (Child Under Twelve-Position of Trust §18-3-102(1)(f))
- Child Abuse Resulting in Death §18-6-401(1)(a), (7)(A)(I)
- Tampering with a Deceased Human Body, §18-8-610.5
- Tampering with Physical Evidence, §18-8-610(1)(a)
PART ONE: Tecia Stauch Interview
PART TWO: Tecia Stauch Interview
PART THREE: Tecia Stauch Interview
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[Feature Photo: Gannon Stauch/Handout; Facebook via Landen Hiott]