Remembering Gannon Stauch, 1 year after his disappearance

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EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — One year ago Wednesday, Gannon Stauch went missing from his home in El Paso County. The 11-year-old was reported as a runaway, but just over a month later, his stepmother was arrested on murder charges in connection with his disappearance.

“Moving on will never even be considered, but equally as an absolute, moving forward is the only option,” Gannon’s father, Al Stauch, said in a statement on Facebook Wednesday. “Without my son life will never be the same and nothing can ever replace him. To all who will read this, hug your children and love them each and every day like tomorrow is a precious gift that is not ever guaranteed.”

In the days following his disappearance, neighbors in Lorson Ranch organized search parties, lit blue lights for Gannon to find his way home, and held vigils in his honor. On Wednesday, the one-year mark since Gannon was reported missing, the sea of blue returned.

“Today we’re returning the neighborhood blue for Gannon.” said Tauni Combs, one of the neighbors. “Initially, it was a way for him to light his way home and today, it’s a way to honor his memory.”

Combs was one of several people to light her porch with Gannon’s favorite color.

Drone video from Jason Evens captures the blue lights in Lorson Ranch on Wednesday.

Lorson Ranch is a young neighborhood, with new homes coming up around the Stauch home and near the neighborhood school. Combs remembered looking through homes that were under construction, and climbing down in ditches that were yet to be filled with concrete.

“My first thought is: I have to go look.” she recalled, “I’d want someone to do the same for my kids. There’s snow on the ground today like there was a year ago, and you search every avenue because it’s a little boy and you want him to be found, and you want him home safe.”

Through the searches, the neighbors created a bond with one another. It would be over a month for them to find out what investigators say actually happened to Gannon.

“It’s a hard thing to look back on,” said Kellie McGregor, another resident of Lorson Ranch. “There’s also sadness because at the time, we thought Gannon had run away, right? So it wasn’t until later that we really sort of knew what had happened.”

McGregor wore her black “Justice for our hero” shirt, which features a blue silhouette in a cape, with the phrase “Gannon Strong” below.

That strength was needed as neighbors helped each other process what happened to the boy they had spent days looking for. The grief brought a new togetherness for the community in the southeast reaches of Colorado Springs.

“All of the sudden you have all these neighbors that are helping. Obviously, there’s grieving that happens, but to remember that some good came from something terrible, and that a community came together to help each other and work together,” McGregor said.


Timeline of Events:

January 27, 2020: Letecia Stauch reports Gannon missing to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

January 28, 2020: Social media posts and media alerts are sent out regarding Gannon’s disappearance.

January 30, 2020: With Gannon’s birth mother, Landen Hiott, in town, the sheriff’s office classifies Gannon as an “Endangered Missing Child” and assigns the major crimes division to investigate.

February 4, 2020: Then-District Attorney Dan May and Michael Allen are seen at the Stauch home in Lorson Ranch, reporting they are “just part of the investigation.”

February 11, 2020: Letecia Stauch releases a lengthy statement to FOX31 KDVR saying she has been the victim of cyberbullying and that she hopes for Gannon’s return.

February 27, 2020: Major parts of the EPCSO search for Gannon are suspended, a month after his disappearance.

March 2, 2020: Letecia Stauch is arrested in South Carolina on charges that include first-degree murder.

March 3, 2020: Letecia Stauch, in court in South Carolina, waives opposition to her extradition to Colorado.

March 4, 2020: Letecia Stauch appears in court in Colorado and waives her advisement of charges.

March 11, 2020: Letecia Stauch is formally charged in Colorado with first-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death, tampering with a deceased human body, and tampering with physical evidence.

March 18, 2020: Gannon’s body is found off a roadway in Florida. The remains are later identified as Gannon’s through dental records.

April 3, 2020: The sealed arrest affidavit is leaked and subsequently unsealed, making public the gruesome evidence EPSCO investigators found in the Stauch home and areas near Palmer Lake, leading to Letecia Stauch’s arrest.

May 12, 2020: Letecia Stauch’s defense team asks for a delay in a pre-trial hearing that would have determined if the prosecution’s evidence was enough to go to trial. Attorneys for Stauch say regulations on visitation at the El Paso County jail have made it impossible to speak to their client.

May 18, 2020: A new charge is filed against Letecia Stauch as EPCSO says another inmate told them that Stauch was trying to escape the jail.

June 5, 2020: An El Paso County judge orders a competency evaluation for Letecia Stauch.

September 8, 2020: State mental health experts determine Stauch is competent to stand trial. Stauch’s defense team requests a second evaluation.

November 4, 2020: Stauch requests a delay in pretrial proceedings due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the El Paso County Jail.

December 22, 2020: Stauch undergoes a second competency evaluation.

January 19, 2021: Stauch’s second competency evaluation finds that she is competent to stand trial. Her next court appearance is set for March 11.

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