Three witnesses who worked with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office took the stand Thursday during the evidentiary 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.
On January 27, 2020, Sgt. Patrick Younkin with El Paso County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the Stauch residence in the Lorson Ranch neighborhood off of Mandan Drive, near Colorado Springs.
Younkin testified Thursday that he was dispatched to the residence in regards to a “runaway juvenile,” who are not given high priority on a busy night. Younkin said January 27, 2020, was a busy night for El Paso County police.
When Younkin arrived at the home, he searched the entire residence, including the garage and storage rooms, but saw no sign of Gannon. Body camera footage indicated that Letecia Stauch was at the home and consented to the search.
Bodycam footage also recorded Stauch as she complained about having to clean a mess Gannon made in the living room. She told Younkin that Gannon was likely at a friend’s house, although police would later say he was already deceased at that point, and hidden inside a suitcase.
Younkin said he wasn’t sure if the suitcase was at the residence when he was there, but admitted that he never searched specifically for a suitcase. He said at the time, nothing indicated that Gannon had been physically harmed.
Deputy John Sarkisian with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office took the stand following Younkin’s testimony. Sarkisian was assigned to run the command while searching for Gannon and making search plans. While searching Perry Park Road in Douglas County, searchers discovered a flat, plywood board with blood on it, Sarkisian said.
Testing conducted later indicated that the blood was Gannon’s, Younkin said.
On February 3, investigators returned to the Stauch home, this time with a “blue-star” solution that lights up when it comes in contact with blood. Sgt. Rosario Hubbell with El Paso County Sheriff’s Office took the stand and stated that the solution did light up and made a trail from Gannon’s room, through the hallway, a storage room, and into the garage.
The solution also picked up several instances of blood spatter inside Gannon’s room, Hubbell said. Detectives found blood underneath the carpet in Gannon’s room, which had saturated through the carpet fiber. Hubbell said it was evident that someone attempted to clean the blood on the visible part of the carpet but didn’t bother to clean underneath.
Hubbell also testified that investigators found a 9mm handgun in Stauch’s master bedroom with her DNA on it. Hubbell said the handgun was consistent with the gun that shot Gannon in the left jaw.
Next up, FBI Special Agent Andrew Cohen, who was the lead agent in the case, takes 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]