Letecia “Tee” Stauch, the stepmother of Gannon Stauch, the 11-year-old boy who’s been missing since January 27, 2020, has been arrested in connection to his disappearance. A spokesperson for Gannon’s family, Cynthia Coffman, said Tecia Stauch is being held for investigation of first-degree murder. Her arrest comes five weeks after Gannon went missing.
Tee Stauch, 36, initially told authorities Gannon was sick and stayed home school on the Monday in January he went missing. She told the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office he left to go to a friend’s house between 3:15 p .m. and 4 p.m., and hadn’t seen him since. She was watching Gannon and his younger sister alone while their father was in Oklahoma for a military assignment.
Gannon is in 5th grade at Grand Mountain School in El Paso County in the Widefield School District. Despite the murder investigation, his body has not been found. Police released few details about the investigation, including how and when they believe Gannon was killed.
On Monday, March 2, 2020, El Paso County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Mitch Mihalko announced during a press conference following Stauch’s arrest, “We do not believe Gannon is alive. Our work is only just beginning…as we continue our relentless pursuit of justice for Gannon and his family.” He said the investigation could take weeks or months.
Gannon lives with his father, Albert Stauch, and his stepmother, Tecia, in the Lorson Ranch area of Colorado Springs. Stauch’s father is in the Colorado Army National Guard, and Gannon’s mother, Landen Hiott, lives in South Carolina. However, she was in Colorado to help with the search. Hiott and Al Stauch share custody of Gannon, according to his family.
Letecia Stauch is being held without bond at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Horry County, South Carolina. She and her family, along with Gannon’s biological parents, are South Carolina natives. It is not clear when she returned to her home state. She will remain in custody until she’s extradited to Colorado to face charges of first-degree murder of a child under 12 years old by a person in a position of trust, child abuse resulting in death, tampering with a deceased human body and tampering with physical evidence.
Prosecutors said the affidavit in the case has been sealed and the facts of the case cannot be discussed at the current time. Investigators asked for anyone with credible tips to continue to provide them to law enforcement as they seek to bring Gannon home for a proper burial and to hold Letecia Stauch responsible.
At a press conference after Letecia’s arrest, Gannon’s mother, Landen Hiott, told reporters, “This person, the stepmom, that I even trusted, she will pay 100 percent for this heinous thing she has done.”
Here’s what you need to know about Letecia “Tecia” Stauch:
1. Letecia Stauch’s Initial Statement of When She Last Saw Gannon Didn’t Appear to Line Up With a Neighbor’s Surveillance Camera, He Says
Roderick Drayton, 49, a neighbor of the Stauch family, found his surveillance camera caught footage Gannon on January 27, and what he saw didn’t appear to line up with his stepmother’s initial statement. According to Drayton, video from a surveillance camera attached to his house also had the Stauch’s driveway in the frame.
The neighbor’s video showed Gannon getting into a truck that belongs to Stauch at around 10 a.m. Later that day, around 2:19 p.m., Stauch returns to the home in the pick-up truck, but Gannon is nowhere to be seen.
Drayton told ABC News when he gave the video to Gannon’s father, Al Stauch broke down crying and said they needed to give the video to investigators. Drayton claims that Gannon’s father said, “she lied … he didn’t go to a friend’s house.” Afterward, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said the video was being considered evidence in the investigation.
Letecia Stauch also gave an interview to a local news station, KKTV, in February in which she denied causing any harm to Gannon. She said at the time, “I would never, ever, ever hurt this child.” She added, “I am going to be so ecstatic when I am able to say to people that they should have a really sincere apology for all of these theories that have come out online. For all the things that people have said I have done or people have done.” Letecia Stauch also said she had been receiving death threats.
On Monday, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder said Stauch was taken into custody without incident just after 8 a.m. in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She was arrested by members of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, the Denver and Columbia, South Carolina, divisions of the FBI, the Myrtle Beach Police Department and the Horry County Sheriff’s Office.
“I cannot stress enough what a difficult time this has been for Gannon’s family,” Elder said, as Gannon’s mother sobbed with another relative behind him. “This has been a rapidly developing and highly complex investigation and it underscores the importance of teamwork in the law enforcement agencies and our community.” He said the relationships between local, state and national law enforcement were a key factor in the arrest.
“We would like to express our deepest sympathies to Gannon’s family and friends. There is no way to express the depth of our sympathy and our hearts break for you,” Elder said. “But I make this promise, this team will continue its work, these partners will remain steadfast and diligent until the conclusion and final prosecution of this case. We will not stop and this investigation has only begun.”
El Paso County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Mitch Mihalko had upgraded the missing child search originally classified as a runaway to an endangered missing child due to his age, and the medication he needed in combination with the amount of time he’s been missing.
Mihalko explained during a press conference, “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.”
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. According to The Denver Post, the searchers included dogs and locals looking on horseback. People walked through snow and nearby bodies of water have been checked for any sign of Gannon.
2. ‘Tecia’ Stauch Married Al Stauch In January 2015 & Has A Stepdaughter From A Previous Relationship
According to Stauch’s now-deleted Facebook page, where she goes by the name Tee Stauch, she worked as a curriculum developer at School District 49 in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado. But the school district told the Colorado Springs Gazette she never actually worked there, despite listing it on Facebook and her Linkedin profile.
“Whatever she’s posted is not correct,” a school district spokesman told the Gazette. “We have no motivations for what that is.” The newspaper reports that Stauch did get her license to teach elementary school, special education and secondary social studies in Colorado in March 2019.
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, according to her Linkedin profile. She also worked for the South Carolina State Department of Social Services as a human services specialist from 2008 to 2010 in Myrtle Beach, according to her Linkedin profile. She previously earned her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Capella University, she said on Linkedin after graduating with a political science degree from the University of North Carolina-Pembroke.
Prior to marrying Al Stauch in January 2015, she had a daughter from a previous relationship, who is now 18. Her previous married name was Letecia Hunt and her maiden name is Letecia Hardin.
Following the arrest of Stauch, Gannon’s father wrote a statement that was read by officials on Monday. He wrote, “My little boy is not coming home. We will never play Nintendo again. No more taco Tuesdays. No more smooth-looking hair cuts. And no more G-man for the world. The person who committed this heinous, horrible crime is one that I gave more to anyone else on this planet, and that is a burden that I will carry with me for a very long time.”
3. Tee Stauch Has Been Fired From Her Last 3 Teaching Jobs & Said She Was Harassed by Gannon’s Mother’s Family While She Was Working at a School in South Carolina After She Lost That Job
In 2015, Letecia Stauch lost her job at a school in South Carolina and her educator certificate suspended in that state, according to documents from her 2016 appeal of that suspension before the South Carolina State Board of Education. Her certificate was suspended for 180 days after the appeal.
Stauch was accused of breach of contract for abandoning her job as a social studies teacher at Palmetto Middle School in Mullins, South Carolina, in the Marion County School District, where she was employed for the 2015 to 2016 school year. Stauch signed her annual contract with the school district in June 2015, without informing the school district she had also signed a contract to teach in Charleston.
The school district said Stauch went to in-service professional development days in August 2015 and the first two days of school, and then did not show up again. She also did not provide a letter of resignation or tell the school she would not be coming into work. The school district said she later did email human resources.
According to the documents:
In this email, Mrs. Stauch indicated that she left the district because she experienced harassment and retaliation after requesting to be released from her contract due to a pending military move, which she claims had been denied. She also alleged that the district superintendent’s niece was her husband’s ex-wife and that the harassment and retaliation were due to this relationship. She threatened to file an EEOC claim unless she was released from her contract. The harassment and retaliation claim was investigated and remains unsubstantiated.
The district said they did not receive military transfer papers from Stauch’s husband until after she had been fired for abandoning her position. The school district reported Stauch to the state board of education, which found that a suspension of her educator’s certificate was warranted.
Prior to teaching in Marion County, Stauch worked in the Myrtle Beach area. According to the Horry County School, she worked there from 2010 to 2015, first as a paraprofessional and then as a teacher. A source told Heavy that Letecia Stauch was fired from her three most recent teaching jobs after the Horry County job.
The first firing is documented in the South Carolina Board of Education documents. Minutes from a 2018 Brunswick County Schools meeting in North Carolina show she was terminated from her job as an early childhood teacher there on August 30, 2018. She had been working at Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary School. And a source told Heavy that Stauch was fired from her job in Colorado in December 2019 after just one semester of employment. She had worked at French Elementary School in Colorado Springs before she was fired after a few months.
In January 2020, Stauch posted on a Linkedin ad for Frontier Airlines saying she had applied for flight attendant jobs based out of Denver and Miami. That post was made about three weeks before Gannon Stauch went missing.
4. Gannon’s Younger Sister Laina Also Lives With Tecia Stauch, Who Was Previously Arrested in North & South Carolina on Domestic Violence Related-Charges
Al Stauch is also father to Gannon’s sister, Laina, who lives with him and Stauch. Al Stauch, who works for the Colorado National Guard, was in Oklahoma for training when his son went missing. However, he immediately returned to Colorado to help assist with the search.
Al 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. His younger daughter was featured in the parents’ plea video to help bring her brother back home.
Court records show that Letecia Stauch was previously arrested in North Carolina and South Carolina. She was charged with first-offense domestic violence in South Carolina in November 2010, but the case was later dropped.
In North Carolina, she was placed on probation in 2002 after three 2001 arrests. She was charged in February 2001 with communicating threats, in April 2001 with simple assault and June 2001 with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, according to North Carolina records. Further details about those cases were not immediately available.
Letecia Stauch issued a statement on February 12, 2020, urging Gannon to come home and thanking those who had been searching for him, while also blasting people on social media who suspected her of being involved in her stepson’s disappearance.
“Social Media has been devastating from the harsh comments, speculations, threats, cyber bullying, etc. It has been a challenge when people are trying to run you off the road, waiting outside your hotel, threatening to kill you, etc. I encourage the Sheriff’s Office to take down those pages that promote negative behavior and violence. Let’s Do what Gannon would do. Be Kind to one another!” she said in the statement. “We all have engaged in something crazy online at some point but Gannon would want everyone to get along and to focus on finding him. I know that many people have kids and are invested in this because it hits close to home for them. I would like to think that overall most people are genuine and want to do everything in their power to find G.”
She also released what she said were answers to questions people had about the case:
With that being said, Please take a step back for a moment and let me explain to you a few details that were not released. For example, just like the video that was leaked, there are additional details that were hidden due to 1) the department doing its job 2) the effects of social media and how some individuals would criticize or hinder the investigation. I chose to listen, I didn’t leak videos or information. But at this time it’s getting later in the process and we just want Gannon home. I feel the need to fill in some gaps. Now let me stress this, POLICE have known this since the first interview.
Saturday Night, G was helping me unload in the garage and cut his foot because there are a lot of tools because Albert does woodworking.
He sat on the edge of the car and we bandaged it up. He was good to go. He always loves helping his dad in the garage build things like his LEGO tables and the flower pot they built for me as a gift. After this, I noticed G kept going to the side of the house.
He told me he was checking to see if the gate was locked because he was the only one with a gate key. It made him proud to be the man of the house while Albert was away. Fast forward, we did a hike on Sunday (cleared), and shopping on Monday ( cleared as well for him getting out of the other side). Please don’t think for a second that there isn’t enough of technology to determine shadows and movement around the truck. There was also proof from my phone that we had taken a selfie in the truck in our driveway that was time stamped. We always send pictures to Albert when we are out and about or when he is away. That can be scanned for actual time verification. Last, from day one the Sheriff’s office has known a description of the person/friend whom Gannon left with.
I explained to them and provided evidence. They had information about G having the key to go out the side gate. Last they have more in-depth details that go along with this pointing to who sent the person or why he may have come. Again, I repeat they have had this Initially and I was asked to keep quiet about it so they could have the best shot at doing their job and bringing G home. The last thing that they needed was a hindrance to their investigation. I encourage you to think of any suspicious cars that may have been in the area watching a few days prior and keep praying for G!
5. Stauch’s Husband Described Gannon as His ‘Miracle Baby’
When Gannon was first born, he weighed 1 pound, 6 ounces. “But he was a survivor,” Al Stauch, his father said on February 5, when he and Gannon’s mother shared an emotional plea to the public to help find Gannon.
“Even today he’s still our miracle child,” Al said. “He still is. And he’s such a happy child and he just brings life to every party. His smile, even today, is keeping us going. His infectious smile brings me joy every time I think about it.”
Gannon’s mother 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.”
Landen Bullard Hiott, 34, 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.
At a press conference after Letecia Stauch’s arrest, Hiott told reporters, “He said ‘Gannon is no longer with us,’ but I have to say ‘Gannon is still with us.’ After the stories from people all over the world, he’s not only my hero now, he’s the world’s hero. … I’m astounded by the amount of love, that has not come for me, it has come for my boy. And I never thought I’d be standing here, it’s a nightmare. I’ve had to put trust in the people I don’t know. Today I got the worst news and the best news. The best news is that justice will be served and I will make sure that justice is served, because my boy did not deserve any of this that has happened to him.”