7-Year-Old Boy, Encased in Concrete, Allegedly Died in Dog Crate That Mom Made Him Sleep In
The mother of a 7-year-old Colorado boy whose corpse was found encased in concrete allegedly revealed to a fellow inmate that her son died in a dog crate, according to newly released court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
On Dec. 23, Caden McWilliams’ body was found in a dog crate filled with concrete in his mother’s Denver storage unit. His mother, Elisha Pankey, turned herself in to authorities following this discovery. She has been charged with child abuse resulting in death as well as abuse of a corpse.
On Tuesday, the Denver County District Attorney’s Office released sixteen pages of court documents that reveal the alleged abuse Caden endured before he died — months before his body was found.
According to an arrest affidavit, an inmate who spoke with Pankey when she was in custody on an unrelated charge revealed to police in December that Pankey’s son died while being kept in a large dog crate in his family’s hotel room in July.
The inmate said Pankey told her that Caden was allegedly forced to live in the dog crate and that his father, Leland Pankey, covered it with blankets.
Pankey allegedly told the woman that one night in July, while she was in bed, Caden began to cry out, saying he was thirsty. Pankey ignored him and stayed in bed, the affidavit states.
The next morning, when she awoke, Caden was dead. The couple then allegedly brought the carrier into their car and drove to a store to buy concrete and industrial-strength trash bags.
They brought Caden’s body in the carrier to a storage unit in Elisha Pankey’s name, where they encased the carrier in concrete.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
The search for Caden began in December when officers were unable to locate the boy while investigating his parents for a separate domestic incident. During an interview with police, Leland Pankey told officers his daughter was at a day care center — but he changed the subject when pressed about Caden.
Through their investigation, authorities learned that his parents had unenrolled Caden from Denver public schools, who said he was to be homeschooled.
A tip came in from an associate of Leland Pankey’s saying that the couple had a storage room in the area. The associate said Leland had told her three weeks ago that months earlier he had lost his son and that she could have the whole unit because he “did not want anything to do with it.”
When authorities obtained a search warrant, they recovered Caden’s decomposed body in the concrete block. He had methamphetamine in his system and was malnourished, the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner announced, CBS News reports.
Elisha is schedule to appear in court on April 2.
If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to http://www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.