COLORADO SPRINGS — Blood spatter and a murder weapon were just a few pieces of evidence discussed in a preliminary hearing for Letecia Stauch, the stepmother arrested on murder charges in connection with 11-year-old Gannon Stauch’s disappearance.
The judge announced that he will decide whether this case will head to trial on Thursday, Sept. 23, at 9 a.m.
Gannon was reported as a runaway on Jan. 27, 2020. At first, Stauch said he went to play at a friend’s house and didn’t return. A few days later, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office amended the case to that of a missing and endangered child. According to investigators, Stauch was the last person to have seen Gannon alive. His remains were eventually found later that year in Florida.
According to his autopsy, Gannon’s cause of death was a gunshot wound and blunt trauma to the head. An investigator said Gannon’s lower left jaw suffered a gunshot wound, he had a cracked skull, and 18 injuries from a sharp object, including two stab wounds. Three bullets were found, one still in Gannon’s skull, and two others in a pillow. When investigators recovered Gannon’s body on March 17, 2020, it was wrapped in blankets next to a pillow, which matched the bedding from his bedroom.
In court, investigators said Stauch rented a budget van and used a suitcase to move Gannon’s body from Colorado to Pensacola, Florida on Feb. 1, 2020. Stauch’s 17-year-old daughter tagged along on the trip. On the morning of Feb. 4, 2020, Stauch allegedly dropped the suitcase, with Gannon’s body inside, off Escambia River Bridge then traveled to Orlando and ultimately to South Carolina where she would later be arrested.
Also shown in court on Thursday was body cam video of the first deputies who responded to the missing child report and questioned Stauch at her home in Lorson Ranch. A deputy searched the home, including underneath Gannon’s bed and inside Stauch’s car, but said there was no indication that something violent had occurred.
A search warrant was later issued for the home and investigators found bloodstains throughout the house, specifically Gannon’s bedroom and the garage. A handgun was also found on top of a dresser in the master bedroom that Stauch slept in. The DNA swabbed from the trigger guard and backstrap matched Stauch.
The defense argued there were three other profiles from the gun that matched men. The prosecution confirmed no one besides Stauch was in the home during the time of the murder. FBI Agent Andrew Cohen told the courtroom the gun was the murder weapon because the bullet found in Gannon’s skull came from the handgun in the bedroom. A photo of the handgun was shown in court which was located next to a photo of Gannon.
Detectives kept close tabs on Stauch’s whereabouts after Gannon was reported missing. Using data from Stauch’s car and cell phone, investigators tracked her movements. She allegedly picked up Gannon’s father at the Colorado Springs Airport the morning of Jan. 28, 2020. The prosecution’s theory is that Stauch returned to the airport that evening to move the body north of Palmer Lake. It wasn’t until Jan. 31 when she allegedly drove her aunt’s rental car, with a tracking device unknowingly on it, back to the area to pick up the body. She then rented a budget van and transported the body to Florida where she eventually dumped it off a highway bridge.
Law enforcement conducted searches in Douglas County off Perry Park Road north of Palmer Lake after finding data collected from Stauch’s car. Search crews found a piece of plywood that had Gannon’s blood on it.
According to arrest records, Stauch gave law enforcement several stories as to what happened to her 11-year-old stepson, including sexual assault, kidnapping, a bike accident, and her initial report of simply failing to return home after visiting a friend.