EL PASO COUNTY — It’s been a grueling 16 days since 11-year-old Gannon Stauch was reported missing from his Fountain-area home. The boy’s stepmother, Letecia Stauch, made that call on January 27, when she said, Gannon didn’t return after leaving to see a friend.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is the lead agency in the search for the boy, as well as in the parallel-running investigation into his, as yet, unexplained disappearance.
Updates from EPSO have been brief, focusing mainly on the increasing number of tips pouring in from around the community, and the long list of other agencies assisting in the search.
To date, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has received 442 tips.
130 people were actively looking for Gannon on Wednesday. The Sheriff’s Office has a pool of over 500 citizen volunteers who have been vetted for search efforts. EPCSO will be reaching out to volunteers if they need them, but at this time is no longer taking applications from people in the search for Gannon.
“The absence of information does not mean that this case has slowed down, that it has stopped, that we are not doing everything we can to bring Gannon home,” El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Jackie Kirby said Wednesday.
Meantime, in the face of what she’s referred to as a “devastating” experience from “the harsh comments, speculations, threats, cyber bullying, etc.” as well as people trying to “run [her] off the road, waiting outside [her] hotel, threatening to kill [her], etc.,” Letecia Stauch released an explosive statement to FOX21 News partner, FOX31 KDVR.
“That would be part of our investigation. Anybody has the right to say anything they want to,” Kirby said in response to Stauch’s statement, which also alluded to the involvement of another person.
When asked about the possibility Gannon may have been abducted, Kirby said, “right now, we’re working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, we’re also working with the FBI’s Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team, and so that is not above the realm of possibility and we are exploring all of those avenues in our investigation.”
“…They have more in-depth details,” Stauch wrote, referring to EPSO, “that go along with this pointing to who sent the person or why he may have come.”
In her statement, Stauch also called upon law enforcement to “take down those pages,” referring to social media groups that formed in the wake of Gannon’s disappearance and have grown, rampantly, since.
Kirby said that just isn’t possible. “It’s outside of the realm of law enforcement’s scope of authority to be able to do that. You’d be silencing somebody’s first amendment rights,” she said.
But she also asked people who participate in those social media groups to think about what Gannon’s family is going through as they post messages online. “If that were your son or your nephew or your grandchild, is that something you would want,” she asked. “Put yourself in their shoes.”
The public has only heard directly from Al Stauch and Landen Hiott, Gannon’s biological parents, during a press conference on January 30, where they stood shoulder to shoulder and adressed the media. The pair also released a video statement on February 5, alongside their young daughter, through the El Paso County Youtube channel.
Hiott was also seen last weekend at a candlelight vigil. Supporters there surrounded her as, it seemed, she became overtaken by emotion.
Last week, FOX21 News was there as investigators removed various items from the Stauch family home on Mandan Drive in Security, and loaded them into a mobile crime unit.
Still, the investigation is not considered to be a criminal one and no suspects have been named.
“Right now, what we have and what we know we are not willing to share with the public to protect the integrity of the investigation,” Kirby reminded the media Thursday. “Again, with the ultimate goal of bringing Gannon home safely to his family.”
“We owe that to Gannon,” she said. “We owe that to Gannon’s family.”