A Colorado Springs boy who disappeared in January 2020 and whose remains were found two months later in a suitcase 1,400 miles away, was shot in the jaw and stabbed at least 18 times before he died, a detective testified Thursday.
Eleven-year-old Gannon Stauch’s stepmother was the last person to see him alive, telling cops that the boy went missing after leaving home to meet a neighborhood friend. Letecia Stauch, a 38-year-old assistant teacher whose license was suspended in 2016 for “unprofessional conduct,” was arrested for Gannon’s murder two weeks before her stepson’s body was discovered beneath a Florida overpass.
During a preliminary hearing on Thursday, Sgt. Rosario Hubbell of the El Paso County, Colorado Sheriff’s Office testified that Letecia Stauch’s DNA was present on a 9mm handgun investigators found in the Stauch family’s house and that a forensic exam determined that a bullet lodged in Gannon Stauch’s head had been fired from the same gun.
Stauch’s lawyer, Joshua Tolini, was in court and unavailable to be reached for comment Friday morning, his office told The Daily Beast. The charges against Stauch include first-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death, tampering with a deceased human body, and tampering with physical evidence.
According to an arrest affidavit filed days before she was apprehended, Letecia Stauch called 911 shortly before 7 p.m. to say Gannon hadn’t come home from his friend’s house and she didn’t see him when she went by to check on him. But investigators said Letecia hadn’t actually gone out to try and locate the boy, and couldn’t provide the name of Gannon’s friend or his parents. Her story then “dramatically changed multiple times over the following days,” the affidavit states.
“Letecia lied to investigators on multiple occasions, has unexplained abnormal behavior such as obtaining a rental car, disconnecting her cell phone from the cellular network for an extended period of time, the false reporting of an alleged rape, abnormal patterns of travel, a continuously evolving story with material changes in facts and circumstances, and has since left the State of Colorado,” the affidavit explains.
Investigators believe that Letecia Stauch killed Gannon in his bedroom around 2:15 p.m. on Jan. 20, 2020, according to the affidavit. Gannon had stayed home from school with an upset stomach on the day he vanished, it says, adding that Letecia also called in sick, falsely telling her boss that her stepfather had been killed after being hit by a car. That afternoon, Letecia asked Harley Hunt, her 17-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, to pick up baking soda, trash bags, and carpet cleaner at a nearby dollar store.
“Physical evidence recovered from the residence and inside Gannon’s bedroom supports that a violent event occurred in his bedroom, which caused bloodshed, including blood spatter on the walls, and enough blood loss to stain his mattress, soak through the carpet, the carpet pad, and stain the concrete below his bed,” states the affidavit.
The morning after Letecia reported Gannon missing, she drove a rented Kia to pick up her husband, Al Stauch, at the Colorado Springs airport. She told Al, who had been out of town on National Guard maneuvers, that she rented the vehicle because “she was concerned about putting mileage on her Tiguan lease.” However, she only put 71 miles in total on the Kia, according to investigators. Later, Letecia drove the Tiguan to another county, where she allegedly first dumped Gannon’s body. Her phone was in airplane mode, and a piece of board with Gannon’s blood on it was later found nearby, according to court testimony on Thursday.
One investigator involved with the case testified that Letecia rented a van on February 1 and drove with Harley from Colorado to Pensacola, Florida. The two stayed at a hotel 3.3 miles from where Gannon’s body was later found, and the van was seen less than two miles from the site. A few hours after checking in, the two left and drove to Orlando, then made their way to South Carolina, where Letecia once lived.
Investigators analyzed Stauch’s online search history and found indications that she was unhappily married and did not appreciate being a stepmother, according to the arrest affidavit. Stauch was arrested in Myrtle Beach on Mar. 2, 2020. She has since been held at the El Paso County Jail and continues to maintain her innocence.
Stauch’s defense team pointed out on Thursday that the back door to the family’s home was opened some 10 times during the period cops believe Gannon was killed, and suggested that someone else may have entered the home to commit the crime. Her lawyers also noted that Stauch did not have a history of child abuse and was described as a good stepmom by people who knew her.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” babysitter Stephanie Cain told a reporter prior to Stauch’s arrest last year. “I’m saying I don’t think, in my personal opinion, I don’t think so. I just don’t think she would do something like that because she is a friend.”
On Sept. 23, 4th Judicial District Judge Gregory Werner is set to rule whether there is sufficient probable cause for the case to proceed to trial.