Friday, March 20, 2020 7:12 PM EST
By The Associated Press, AP
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Human remains found in Florida are believed to be those of a Colorado boy reported missing in January by his stepmother, who was later arrested and charged with killing him, authorities said Friday.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office said the remains were found in Pace, on the Florida Panhandle. Investigators are asking for information from anyone who may have seen 11-year-old Gannon Stauch's stepmother, Letecia Stauch, in Pace or nearby Pensacola between Feb. 3 and Feb. 5.
Michael Allen, a deputy district attorney in El Paso County, declined to release any details about how Gannon was killed or who discovered the body. The sheriff's office in Santa Rosa County, where the body was found, did not respond to a phone message left Friday.
Stauch reported Gannon missing Jan. 27, saying he never returned to his Colorado Springs home after leaving to go to a friend’s house. Authorities initially called him a runaway but three days later said he was considered missing and endangered due to his age, the amount of time he had been gone and his dependence on medication.
After a search that lasted for weeks came up empty, investigators presumed the boy was dead and arrested the stepmother in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on March 2.
“We met with the family earlier today, and obviously they're distraught with this information," Allen said about the discovery of the remains. “They were still holding out hope that Gannon would come home alive. ... It's tragic."
Stauch is being represented by the state public defender’s office, which does not comment on cases.
She was brought back to Colorado and charged with murder, child abuse resulting in death, tampering with a body and tampering with physical evidence. Allen said prosecutors have filed an additional murder charge, as well as other counts.
A judge sealed the sworn statement that explains the reason for Stauch's arrest, and investigators and prosecutors have declined to discuss details of the case. News organizations, including The Associated Press, are suing for the release of the document.