GANNON GOES MISSING AFTER STAYING HOME FROM SCHOOL
On Jan. 27, 11-year-old Gannon Stauch vanished from his Colorado Springs home after staying home sick from Grand Mountain School.
More than four weeks later, there is still no sign of the fifth-grader, and his family and law enforcement are still looking for answers.
The FBI, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and 15 other agencies have joined the search. As of Feb. 24, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has received 768 tips.
“It’s being worked 24 hours a day to bring Gannon home,” El Paso County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Jacqueline Kirby told PEOPLE. “Time is of the essence.”
FROM RUNAWAY TO ENDANGERED MISSING CHILD
On Jan. 27, Gannon’s stepmother, Letecia “Tecia” Stauch, told police the boy left his home between 3 and 4 p.m. to walk to a friend’s house. When he didn’t come home, Tecia said she called the sheriff and reported him as a runaway.
Gannon’s father Albert, an active-duty Army National Guardsman, flew home the following day from Oklahoma, where he had been training. Gannon’s biological mother, Landen Hiott, who lives in South Carolina, arrived soon afterward.
Three days later, the El Paso County Sherriff’s Office upgraded the search status from runaway to an endangered missing child. The reason for the change was due to the amount of time he was gone, his age, and medication he was taking at the time.
BORN EXTREMELY PREMATURE, GANNON BEAT THE ODDS
When Gannon was born, he weighed only 1 lb. 6 oz., and doctors gave him a 10 percent chance of survival. Family and friends marveled at how he grew from a “micro-preemie” to a gifted school student.
“He was born extremely premature, and he survived,” Gannon’s great-aunt Veronica Birkenstock told PEOPLE. “But even surviving, there was reason to believe that he would have some severe disabilities and none of that manifested. He’s gifted and talented, which in itself is a miracle.”
AN EXHAUSTIVE SEARCH
Since the boy’s disappearance, law enforcement has searched the Lorson Ranch neighborhood, nearby fields, new subdivisions and the Big Johnson Reservoir where they used sonar and underwater drone to search the water and neighboring counties. Crews have used K-9 units, helicopters as well as the aid of hundreds of volunteers to find the boy.
Last week, searchers called off their search of a 35-acre area of El Paso and Douglas counties.
BLUE LIGHTS TO 'HELP GUIDE GANNON HOME'
As soon as Gannon was reported missing, the community began to rally. Soon, neighbors replaced lights throughout the complex with blue bulbs—Gannon’s favorite color—and tied blue balloons and ribbon to trees “to help guide Gannon home,” says Salvation Army captain Caleb Fankhauser.
Children in the neighborhood scrawled chalk messages for Gannon on the pavement and one neighbor used a drone in an attempt to track down the boy.
On Feb. 8, neighbors and members of the public gathered in a field near Gannon’s Lorson Ranch neighborhood and held a vigil for the boy.
GANNON'S STEPMOM SPEAKS OUT AMID SUSPICIONS — AND POLICE RESPOND
From early on, public suspicion swirled around Gannon’s stepmom, Leticia “Tecia” Stauch (pictured with Albert Stauch) after a neighbor’s video surveillance surfaced that seemed to contradict what she told the police.
In an exclusive statement to Fox Denver 31, Tecia Stauch (pictured above with Albert Stauch) thanked those looking for her stepson, and begged him to come home — and also appeared to imply that the boy may have been abducted.
“I encourage you to think of any suspicious cars that may have been in the area watching a few days prior and keep praying for G,” she said in the statement.
Initially, the sheriff’s office responded to the stepmom’s statement by saying they have no reason to believe the boy was kidnapped. But since then, the sheriff’s office has asked the public to notify them if they’ve seen a strange car in the Lorson Ranch neighborhood.
GANNON'S MOM PLEADS WITH PUBLIC FOR HELP
On Feb. 20, the mother of Gannon Stauch asked the public to help her find her missing son.
“I don’t want to wait another day,” Landen Hiott said in an exclusive interview with ABC News. “If he is not with me, he is hurting.”
Hiott told ABC News that she was confident her son was not a runaway.
“I know that you want to be home, and I will do anything in this world to make sure that I can get you,”she said. “You are my hero. You are my baby. And I want you to come home so bad.”
GANNON IS SHERIFF'S 'NUMBER ONE PRIORITY'
On Feb. 26, the sheriff’s crime lab made another trip to the Stauch family home. The lab has been at the home on numerous occasions and have removed boxes of evidence since the boy went missing.
As many as 15 detectives are working the case and reviewing surveillance footage as well as recanvassing the neighborhood for clues.
“It’s all about processing the information that we have, any evidence that we have. It’s also following the tips and the leads until they are all exhausted and following the tips and leads if they lead to other tips of leads,” says sheriff’s office spokesperson Jacqueline Kirby. “Reviewing surveillance footage, that is absolutely a large part of it. I can’t stress enough, it is the Sheriff’s office number one priority.”
GANNON'S STEPMOTHER IS ARRESTED
On March 2, Gannon’s stepmother was arrested on murder charges in the boy’s presumed death, authorities said.
Letecia “Tecia” Stauch was arrested in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and was being held without bond. She will eventually be extradited back to Colorado Springs.
She faces charges of murder in the first degree of a child under 12; child abuse resulting in death; tampering with a deceased human body and tampering with physical evidence, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder said in a press conference.
In a March 3 court appearance, Stauch stood handcuffed and shackled, appearing in an orange prison jumpsuit during her extradition hearing in Myrtle Beach.
She waived her right to an extradition hearing, which means she consents to being returned to Colorado for her impending arraignment.
A MOTHER CRIES
The mother of Colorado 11-year-old Gannon Stauch broke down at a press conference on March 2 after authorities announced murder charges against the boy’s stepmother, also announcing that Gannon is presumed dead.
“It is a nightmare,” Landen Hiott said through tears. “I got the worst news and the best news. 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.”
Hiott thanked those who have expressed support for Gannon even though they never met the boy, saying Gannon is “not only my hero, he’s the world’s hero.”
GANNON'S REMAINS ARE FOUND
On March 20, remains located in Florida were tentatively identified as belonging to Gannon.
A press release from the El Paso County Sheriff says the office was contacted by the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office in Florida after that office responded to a call about a deceased juvenile male in Pace. After an autopsy, the remains were tentatively identified as Gannon’s.
The press release indicates Letecia Stauch may have been in Florida from Feb. 3 to 5.
GANNON'S DAD SPEAKS OUT AFTER SON'S BODY FOUND
In a statement after Gannon’s remains were found, Albert Stauch said: “As you can tell from the initial missing child report, to the arrest and charges in early March, and now the wonderful, yet gut-wrenching news that Gannon’s body has been recovered, this has been a heartbreaking and absolutely devastating time period in my life.”
The statement was posted on the Facebook page of Restoration Church in Colorado Springs, which he attends.