(PENSACOLA, Fla.) — The remains of an 11-year-old Colorado boy missing since Jan. 27 were found nearly 1,400 miles away from his home Friday, confirming his family’s worst fears.
Gannon Stauch’s body was found near Escambia River Bridge on Interstate 90 near Pace, Florida, by a Florida Department of Transportation construction crew, said Sgt. Rich Aloy of the Santa Rose County Sheriff’s Office. Pace is 15 miles north of Pensacola.
The news was devastating to Gannon’s mother, father and younger sister.
“They’re distraught with this information,” said El Paso County Senior Deputy District Attorney Michael Allen. “They were still holding out hope that Gannon would come home alive.”
The discovery of Gannon’s remains led Colorado’s El Paso County District Attorney’s Office to file nine additional charges against his stepmother, Letecia Stauch, who was arrested for Gannon’s murder on March 2 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Stauch was the last person to have seen Gannon in late January when she told police he stayed home from school. She told them he went missing that afternoon after leaving the family home to play with a neighborhood friend.
Surveillance video from that day captured by one of Stauch’s neighbors revealed that she left with the boy in a truck and returned four hours later in what appeared to be an empty vehicle.
For weeks, searchers combed fields and streams in the area near Gannon’s home by horseback and on foot with no luck.
The new charges against Letecia Stauch include one count of first-degree murder after deliberation and eight counts of committing a crime of violence, an enhanced charge that would be used to increase punishment.
“I filed eight counts of crime of violence, for the alleged use of a firearm, a blunt instrument, a knife or other sharp object,” Allen told reporters Friday during a televised news conference.
Allen would not elaborate on what he believes happened to Gannon.
Florida authorities said they’re assisting with the Colorado investigation to find out if Stauch was in Florida during a specific time, posting to Facebook, “Anyone who has seen Letecia Stauch in Pace or Pensacola, Florida between Feb. 3-5 is asked to call the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 719-520-6666.
Stauch’s mother, Landen Hiott, told ABC News that she will bury her son in South Carolina, where he spent most of his life.
Letecia Stauch faces life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder.
Her next court appearance is set for April 14 in Colorado Springs.
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