Gannon Stauch is a missing 11-year-old boy who was last seen on Monday, January 27, 2020, at his home in El Paso County, Colorado, police and his family say. Gannon’s disappearance was first classified as a possible runaway, but the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said on Thursday, January 30, that they were now calling him an endangered missing child.
Gannon lives with his father, Albert Stauch, and stepmother, Tecia Stauch, in the Lorson Ranch area of Colorado Springs. Stauch’s father is in the Colorado Army National Guard. Gannon’s mother, Landen Hiott, lives in South Carolina and is in Colorado helping with the search. Hiott and Stauch share custody of Gannon, according to his family.
The sheriff’s office, other local police agencies and the FBI are investigating. “If you have seen Gannon or may have information as to his whereabouts, please call the Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at 719-520-6666,” the sheriff’s office said.
El Paso County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Mitch Mihalko, who heads the investigations division, was asked at the Thursday evening press conference why case was upgraded to be classified as an endangered missing child from a runaway. He replied, “There’s a number of factors in this particular case, we’ve been having cold weather, so the weather was one issue. The timeframe is another issue. The fact that he’s actually under the age of 13, he’s 11 years old, and he has specific medicine that he takes, we want to make sure that all the resources are being poured in to locate him.”
Mihalko, when asked if there is anything suspicious about the case, replied, “At this point in time we have an active investigation. Our main focus is to get Gannon located.” He gave a similar answer when asked about foul play or anything that would lead to a criminal investigation, saying, “What’s important at this point is we’re focused on trying to find Gannon and that his safety is paramount to us. … I always believe in the best and I believe that we will be finding Gannon.”
Police said Gannon is 4’9″ and weighs 90 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. He was wearing a blue fleece hooded sweatshirt (hoodie), blue jeans and tennis shoes, police said.
Here’s what you need to know about Gannon Stauch and the search for the missing 11-year-old boy:
1. Gannon Stauch Was Last Seen by His Stepmother at Their Lorson Ranch Home Monday Afternoon
Gannon Stauch was last seen Monday afternoon at his home in the Lorson Ranch neighborhood by his stepmother, Tecia Stauch, according to his family. He did not go to school on Monday, according to social media posts from family members, possibly because he was sick or had a doctor’s appointment, and his stepmom said he had gone to a friend’s house “down the road.” Police have not said if he made it to the house.
Gannon’s father was out of town at the time and he was with his mother and younger sister. His stepmom said the three of them had gone hiking on Sunday.
Al Stauch told KOAA-TV, “He’s not really the type just to walk off…told my wife he was going to play and then…haven’t seen him since. … We kind of do the street light rule – when the street lights come on or it gets dark, they better be home and it was like maybe 30 minutes past that…started to worry at that point. Then I started texting all the friends that we know he goes to and nobody had seen him.”
Lieutenant Mihalko said the sheriff’s office received a call about 6:55 p.m. Monday for a runaway child in the 6600 block of Mandan Drive. Police entered Gannon into missing persons databases about an hour later as an active runaway. Mihalko said deputies conducted an initial investigation that included interviews with the reporting person, identified as Gannon’s stepmom, and she told them he was last seen between 3 or 4 p.m. that day. The deputies also searched the area but did not find Gannon.
On Tuesday, Mihalko said the investigations division took over the case and began collecting information, including video surveillance, neighborhood canvass information and conducted interviews. They also followed up on additional leads and used various techniques and technology. He said the investigation continued through Wednesday and into Thursday, when it was upgraded from a runaway to an endangered missing child based upon the information that was gleaned from the investigation so far.
Mihalko said that “because of the upgrade in the status of Gannon, resources from the NCMEC,” the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the FBI’s CHild Abduction Rapid Deployment Team, were requested by the sheriff’s office. “There are numerous resources at that level that assist us and give us an additional footprint in the investigation. These folks are experts in the field of search and rescue and we’ll be a good partner with us during this investigation,” Mihalko said.
Mihalko said they are looking for additional tips from the community and said they are vetting all tips they receive. He said it is an active investigation that includes continuing witness interviews as well as evidence collection with the goal of finding out exactly where Gannon is at. He said “we are exhausting at this point every avenue that we can to find potential leads and to get Gannon located.”
He said they have received numerous tips through the dispatch center and the tip line. He said tips should not be made through social media, instead, they should be called in. Mihalko said they have been actively searching for Gannon since the start. He said he could not say whether any of the surveillance video they have been reviewing has Gannon on it.
Police said if volunteers are needed to search, they will post information about how to help on social media and the sheriff’s office website.
2. Gannon’s Parents Spoke at an Emotional Press Conference & Said They Are ‘Begging’ for
Him to ‘Come Home’
Gannon’s mother, Landen Hiott, and father, Al Stauch, were at the Thursday press conference and made emotional statements about their missing son.
Landen Hiott said, “I’m so thankful for all of the outpouring of help that this case has brought. … And it’s so hard to just think, ‘why is this happening to him.’ I have no clue. My kid deserves to come home. My kid has a purpose, my kid has a life. And it’s important to me and it’s important to everybody that’s standing in this room. Gannon, bubba, little man, mommy’s hero, wherever you’re at. Mommy and daddy are here. And we’re begging and pleading for you to come home. I know that’s your biggest wish, to see mommy and daddy standing here. We’re here bubba, we’re here for you. And I can’t wait til you’re found, because I have hope that you’ll be found. You are my hero, you are the reason why I have life.”
Albert Stauch said, “Gannon, daddy loves you so much, please come home.”
About a dozen other family members and friends were at the press conference at Gannon’s parents’ side, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.
El Paso County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jacqueline Kirby said, “We are in awe of their strength they have shown in the midst of an unimaginable situation that no parent ever wants to find themselves in.”
Landen Bullard Hiott, 34, Aynor, South Carolina, and is a health and PE teacher there. She graduated from Green Sea Floyds High School in South Carolina and studied at Coastal Carolina University and Coker College. She and her husband, Mike Hiott, have two young daughters.
Gannon’s father, Al, is in the Colorado National Guard and was in Oklahoma for training and returned to Colorado after his son was reported missing. He has been in the Army National Guard since 2005, first in South Carolina. He is currently an operations officer at the 100th Missile Defense Brigade. Al Stauch studied psychology at Liberty University, graduating in 2010, and space studies at American Military University. He also has a younger daughter who lives with him and Gannon’s stepmom.
Al’s wife, Gannon’s stepmom, is Letecia “Tecia” Stauch. She has an 18-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. According to her Facebook page, where she uses the name Tee Stauch, Gannon’s stepmother is a curriculum developer at School District 49 in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado. She previously worked as an education specialist and teacher and at-risk youth coordinator in South Carolina. She completed her doctorate at Liberty University in 2019 in education. She and Gannon’s father have been married since January 2015.
3. Gannon Stauch, a 5th Grader at Grand Mountain School, Is a ‘Gifted’ & ‘Loving’ Boy Who Would ‘Do Anything for Anybody,’ His Mother Says
Gannon Stauch is in the 5th grade at Grand Mountain School in El Paso County in the Widefield School District.
His mother said, “My son is a very loving kid, he wouldn’t want any harm on anybody at all. … He’s so special to me, I don’t think many people can understand. My child was a 1 pound, 6 ounce baby. He had a 10 percent chance of survival. If he survived, he would profoundly disabled. None of that is accurate. He’s gifted and talented, he’d do anything for anybody. So I’m begging, pleading, if anybody has any type of lead, put yourself in my situation. Ask yourself what would you do.”
He posted a video on YouTube in April 2019:
Gannon does not appear to have any other social media.
The sheriff’s office told the Colorado Springs Gazette Gannon was absent on Monday. The school district said counselors would be available at the school.
Gannon’s aunt, Veronica Birkenstock, told the newspaper he nephew is quiet and a “very loving child.” She said, “Disappearing is totally out of his character; he always has to be with somebody.”
Gannon and his family have lived in several different areas in the U.S., including at Fort Greeley in Alaska. They have also lived in South Carolina, where his mother and father are originally from.
4. Police Asked the Public to Avoid Sharing Rumors on Social Media & Said They Are Conducting Interviews, Collecting Tips & Exploring Any Leads They Can Find
The sheriff’s office lashed out about social media rumors that have spread around the case.
“I wanted to stress something very important in this case that we have seen. The misinformation that is being spread on social media has been an absolute hindrance to this case. Every rumor, every thought, everything somebody thought they heard, they saw, it takes away from our ability to vet credible tips and find Gannon,” sheriff’s office spokesperson Jacqueline Kirby said at the Thursday press conference. “It prevents us from being timely in our response. I cannot stress this enough. Any information that is prematurely released or that has not been released from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is not credible. Everything else is rumor and its innuendo.”
Investigators have been actively searching since the start, Milhako said, but said there are no specific locations he can release. When asked about a rumor there was a search at a landfill, Milhako said they have been in contact, as part of their normal protocol, with local trash companies, but they were not conducting any searches at landfills.
Police also addressed a rumor that Gannon’s stepmother, Tecia Stauch, was not fully cooperative with law enforcement. “At this point in time we are conducting multiple interviews and what I can tell you is that each leade we have had is exhausted,” Mihalko said.
He said they are looking at persons of interest, but only meaning that they are people that could give them additional information about Gannon.
5. Gannon’s Family’s Church Held a Prayer Gathering for Him Wednesday Night & His Father Thanked the ‘Amazing Community’ for Their Help Searching for Him
A prayer gathering was held Wednesday night at Restoration Church. His mother and stepmother attend the church.
“It’s one of our own. This little guy is one of our own…we’ve been monitoring it closely. Of course, deeply concerned,” Lead Pastor Paul Aragon told KOAA-TV. “Since we are so close in proximity of the family, where they live, we felt like this would be a natural place to come together and just provide support for the community…this community is going to make it through this difficult time. We don’t know what’s going on, but our hearts hurt. We just want to be here for everyone.”
Members of the community planned to put out blue ribbons to show their support and were putting up missing posters and sharing them on social media.
Al Stauch said they have an “incredible community,” and team searching for Gannon. “I came out of my front door, I think it was Tuesday, and there were 300 people out there searching and it blew me away. Thank you everyone,” he said Thursday at a press conference.
Gannon’s mother, Landen, said, “My savior is a great savior and I know, I have hope, that my son’s going to be here. I’m thankful for the churches, the pastors, the outpouring of support from this community, from Albert’s military family, everybody, the detectives.” She said one of the detectives told her they had a , “90 percent success rate, and you told me, ‘I’m going to find Gannon.’ I believed that, it was the first time I had hope since I got that call on Monday. I have hope. So please have hope with me. I’m begging, bring my baby home. Bubba, I love you. Mommy loves you so much, Nova loves you, Lana loves you, this room is filled with people who love you and this community loves you. So please come home baby, please come home.”