Immediately after it was announced that the stepmom of a missing Colorado boy has been arrested and charged with his murder, the child's birth mother gave an emotional statement about her "hero" son.
Investigators believe that Letecia Stauch, 36, killed Gannon Stauch, 11. She was the last person to see him alive and is also the person who called 911 to report him missing. She was arrested in Horry County, South Carolina on Monday and is being held without bond until she can be extradited back to Colorado, according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
She’s being charged with first degree murder of a child under 12 in a position of trust, child abuse resulting in death, tampering with a deceased human body, and tampering with evidence.
As officials announced Letecia Stauch’s arrest at a press conference Monday, Gannon’s biological mother, Landen Hiott, burst into tears. Gannon's father, Albert Stauch, and a woman consoled her as she tried to maintain her composure during the overwhelming announcement.
Then came Hiott's heartbreaking statements; which she prefaced by saying, “I am really not in the correct mindset to be even standing up here," The Denver Channel reports. However, Hiott continued on while wearing a shirt with the phrase "G-Man" on it — one of her son's nicknames.
Hiott said that, while her son is no longer physically on Earth, “Gannon is with us." And support for Gannon from around the globe makes him “not only my hero, he’s the world’s hero," she added.
She made it clear that Monday was bittersweet, referencing the devastating realization that her son is presumed dead.
“Today I got the worst news and the best news,” she said. “Obviously, we know what the worst news is. The best news is justice will be served — and I will make sure justice is served because my boy didn’t deserve any of this that happened to him.”
Letecia had previously claimed that Gannon had vanished on Jan. 27 after he left their El Paso County home to walk to a friend’s house. However Roderrick Drayton, who lives a few houses down from the Stauch family, said footage from his home surveillance possibly contradicted Letecia’s account. He told the Denver Post that footage he uncovered showed the boy and a female relative get into a truck the morning of his disappearance.
The truck returned about four hours later but only the woman got out, according to Drayton. In a statement provided to local outlet KDVR, Letecia maintained that she and Gannon returned home together that day, even if the video did not appear to show it.
“This stepmom, who I even trusted — she will pay 100 percent for this heinous thing she has done,” Hiott said at Monday’s presser. “I want to leave this earth knowing that justice was served for my boy.”
Letecia previously defended herself in an interview with KKTV, stating, "I would never, never ever hurt this child," adding that she became the victim of internet rumors and death threats as a result of Gannon's disappearance.
Gannon's father Albert also addressed Letecia at Monday’s presser through a statement read by law enforcement.
“The person who committed this heinous horrible crime is one that I gave more to anybody else on this planet, and it is a burden that I will carry with me for a very long time,” he wrote.
Hiott called Gannon “special” and urged people to hold his story close.
"This is his story. So make that story magnificent, who my child is," Hiott told the public during her emotional statement. "And I am putting it to you guys to do that. So thank you for allowing Gannon to be your hero and sharing him with us."
Letecia made a brief court appearance Tuesday, CBS Denver reports. She is not fighting her extradition back to Colorado, which is expected to occur soon. If convicted on the charges she faces, she could face life behind bars. It’s not clear if she has a lawyer yet to speak on her behalf.
Gannon's body has not yet been found.
"Let's continue to work together to find Gannon," the El Paso County Sheriff's Office stated on Monday.
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