It is unclear when Caden died but police believe it was sometime between May and September 2018

By Harriet Sokmensuer
January 08, 2019 01:59 PM
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A Denver mother who turned herself in to authorities last week after the body of her missing son was found in a storage unit has been charged in connection with his death, PEOPLE confirms.

Elisha Pankey, 43, was charged Monday with child abuse resulting in death and abuse of a corpse in the death of her 7-year-old son, Caden McWilliams, according to a criminal complaint obtained by PEOPLE.

The search for Pankey’s son, Caden, began in December when Aurora police arrested Pankey for suspected heroin possession after allegedly discovering drugs in her hotel room on Dec. 22, KDVR reported.

The next day, Aurora police contacted Denver police for help in locating Caden, according to a police press release obtained by PEOPLE. Police have not said who reported the child missing but no AMBER Alert was ever issued for him.

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After receiving unspecified tips about a local storage unit, investigators discovered Caden’s body inside one of the units, according to the press release.

His body had been encased in concrete in an attempt to hide evidence, KDVR, The Denver Channel and The Denver Post report, citing sources.

It remains unclear how the boy got to the storage unit but sources told KDVR he had been dead for a “long time” before being found.

In the criminal complaint, authorities only include a time period in which they believe the alleged crimes occurred: Pankey is accused of injuring her son and abusing his corpse sometime between May and September of last year.

Elisha Pankey
Aurora Police Department

A police official told NBC News Caden is said to have last attended school in May.

PEOPLE’s calls to Denver Public School District were not immediately returned.

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said in a statement to PEOPLE: “This is a terrible tragedy for the community. While this case will take time to resolve, it will take even longer for our community to learn and heal.”

An autopsy has been conducted, but Caden’s cause of death has not been released as of Tuesday. Pankey remains behind bars on $250,000, KDVR reports. It is unclear whether she has an attorney to comment on her behalf.

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