By: Ashley Portillo , Benjamin Lloyd
COLORADO SPRINGS (KOAA) — The Letecia Stauch murder trial resumed Wednesday with the presentation of a police interview with the accused and her then-husband Al Stauch as detectives worked to locate Gannon Stauch.
Stauch is accused of killing her stepson Gannon in 2020, reporting him as missing, and later dumping the body in a suitcase along the side of a road in Florida. Stauch has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
READ MORE: CO v. Letecia Stauch: Daily Trial Updates
The first witness to be called to the stand this morning was Jessica Bethel, assigned as the lead detective from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office on the case. Bethel said, “Initially this case was receiving a lot of attention on social media. The case quickly grew to a multi-agency case.” She said at least 10 agencies, both local and federal, got involved.
“The suspect providing alternate leads, multiple stories of what happened, ultimately influenced how we proceeded with the case,” Bethel testified.
The detective said she contacted Letecia early on in the investigation to speak to her about Gannon’s disappearance, preferably at the Stauch’s home so detectives could look for clues or anything missing.
She said Letecia did not agree to allow her to go to the home because Letecia said there were young children in the home, and she didn’t want them to overhear what they were talking about.
Letecia offered to meet at a Starbucks in Fountain. Bethel said at first, Letecia was hesitant to talk to detectives, and “was apprehensive at best.”
The court saw and heard a police interview with the couple. During the interview, Letecia and Al are talking about what school Gannon went to, friends in the neighborhood that Gannon played with, and how he went to a friend’s house but never came home.
Letecia described about what they did on Sunday, January 26, one day before Gannon’s disappearance. She said they went hiking at Garden of the Gods, and Gannon said his stomach was hurting so he stayed home from school on Monday. Letecia took off work to stay with him.
Letecia said on Monday, they went and got food and went to Petco, while Gannon stayed in the car because he wasn’t feeling well.
At one point, Letecia and Al both said Gannon texted Al, “Do we have bath salts?” Letecia said Gannon asked for bath salts the day before, so Letecia said she gave him a bath bomb.
During the interview, Al said it’s common for Gannon to go play with friends and take his Nintendo Switch, but he was never gone long. At one point Al said, “I’m pretty convinced that something bad…”
Al said everything was consistent with Gannon going to play at a friend’s house. He said Gannon took his Nintendo Switch, had his playing shoes on, etc.
Al said, “I know every parent says this, but he’s a pretty straight kid… He does his chores, makes straight A’s, kind hearted.”
Al said after he got custody of Gannon, he took Gannon to counseling to make sure he was okay. He said, “He was going through normal emotions of missing his mom.” Al said the counselor never bought up anything concerning or alarming.
When asked what Letecia’s demeanor was like during the interview, Bethel said, “She was calm and collected.” She also added that Letecia’s personality was consistent throughout.
Bethel said she spoke to Letecia several times on January 28, through text messages, phone calls, and FaceTime. She said Letecia declined to show up for an interview because she said her stomach was hurting.
The jury also heard audio from a FaceTime from around 10 p.m. on January 28 between Bethel and Letecia. Letecia was mad because she said her daughter, Harley, was left at the Stauch home by herself while detectives were there. Letecia asked, “She can’t go get food or go get coffee?”
On the FaceTime call, Bethel continued asking about information or updates so she could find Gannon. Letecia said, “Why are you asking me this? You keep asking me this over and over and over… I’m not going to talk to you without an attorney when I already talked to you earlier”.
Bethel described the interaction saying, “She was angry with me… I’m not sure exactly why she was angry with me, but she was angry with me.” Bethel said many of the text messages from Letecia were focused on her, and not on helping find Gannon.
Bethel testified saying Letecia said something bad happened to her and she couldn’t tell detectives while Al was around. She said Letecia also said the family was getting death threats.
A video recording of the interview between Letecia and Bethel was conducted at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office around noon on January 29. This interview is more than four hours long and was played for the courtroom in its entirety.
Before the interview begins, Letecia is seen in the room by herself sitting on the couch with her arms and legs crossed, humming at times. District Attorney Michael Allen paused the recording to say he wanted jurors to see her demeanor as it regards any mental health concerns.
Letecia said she knew the conversation was being recorded, and she asked if it’ll stay private and within the Sheriff’s Office, “because I’m going to have to tell you some very personal things,” said Letecia. She also said she hadn’t eaten, so detectives gave her refreshments.
Letecia described Sunday, January 26 including the hike at Garden of the Gods, Gannon’s stomach hurting, getting dinner, then going home. She said it was a normal Sunday night. She then described the alarm going off saying, “fire, fire, fire.” She said she saw smoke coming from downstairs. She then ran downstairs and put out a small fire which was on the floor. She said Gannon was sleeping on the couch right next to the fire.
Letecia said they were able to get everyone out of the home, and when they got back, they talked about a plan to fix the carpet the next day. She said Gannon stayed home from school the next day because of his stomach problems, and to help fix the carpet.
Letecia said on Monday she noticed marks and burns on Gannon’s arm that began peeling and bleeding. She said she was scared and freaking out because she didn’t want Al to know. She became emotional saying, “I made a mistake, I swear to y’all, I didn’t know they were that bad.”
Letecia described how on Monday, January 27, she and Gannon rode to Petco and he stayed in the car because he wasn’t feeling well. Letecia said he was keeping an eye on him, and she kept walking toward the front of the store to look out the window toward the car.
She and Gannon returned home around 2 p.m. She said when she walked inside the home, she heard something downstairs. “I didn’t think anything about it… And the guy was in there. I gave him the code, and it was all my fault… I gave him the code to fix our carpet,” said Letecia.
She said she heard something in the storage closet and by her own account, “He was standing in there, and he had on gloves and he had one of the guns. I was terrified, and then he just knocked me down”.
Letecia said she began to cry and freak out before blacking out for a little bit.
Letecia said she couldn’t find Gannon, but the guy was still in the home. She said she went back upstairs. “The reason I sent Laina away is because I wanted her to be safe too.. I sent her on a mission to get the mail. So I just started making up things for Laina to do”.
Letecia admitted to detectives, “I did lie, when they came, I did say Gannon left. He never did, he never left to go play”, she said during the interview.
She told detectives she lied about what happened because she didn’t want to face the consequences of it being her fault, and giving the code to “the carpet guy” who went into her home.
She said she was pacing the house questioning what to do following Gannon’s apparent abduction. She admitted to the fact she should’ve got on the phone immediately and called 911, but she kept thinking it was all her fault. Letecia said, “In my mind, I thought I could fix this.”
Letecia then describes how she got a rental car from the airport, saying she had a leased car and didn’t want to go over the mileage as they were driving around searching for Gannon. Letecia said she parked her car in the short-term parking lot at the airport. She admitted that she told Al, that her car was parked at a local elementary school.
Letecia was asked by detectives to describe the burns on Gannon’s arms and where they were. She went over what happened when putting the fire out, that Gannon was asleep but then woke up, and was hanging off the side of the sofa. She said he was alert, saying sorry and he didn’t mean to do it.
During her interview, Letecia described how she met “the carpet guy.” She said she went over to where the new buildings were in her community. She said she met a guy named “Eduardo or Edgardo.”
She said she asked if he had the carpet for the home, and he said yes. She said she then gave him the code to the garage and told him the area where the carpet needed to be fixed downstairs in the home.
Letecia said she had left $50 on the counter and told “the carpet guy” to take that for the job he was doing to fix the carpet.
Letecia was then asked to go into further detail about what happened when she got home. Letecia said, “I’m one of those people that tries to not think mental health is always an issue… I’m not going to let that be a stigma that I’m going to have mental health problems.”
Letecia began crying with her head in her hands, then said a few times, “I don’t want to dream anymore.” She said she’s trying to block it out, and doesn’t want to be specific. The interview then continues.
Letecia was then asked to describe again what happened when she found the carpet guy in their home. She said the doors to the gun cabinet in her room were open, and she didn’t think much of it.
Letecia talked about how the man that was in her home, raped her. She said it’s difficult to describe in detail what happened because of the nature of the situation.
Letecia said the first thing she remembers after the assault was, “I just remember being like, where’s Gannon? And I was freaking out because I didn’t know where he was at.” She said she also found a gun on the floor afterward.
Letecia told the detective in the room that she hasn’t showered or hadn’t eaten, then said, “I would do anything for you to figure out who Eduardo is.” She described the clothes she was wearing during the attack and said she had washed the clothing.
Letecia said she won’t go to the hospital to do an exam after she was sexually assaulted, without showering and cleaning herself up. Letecia said, “that’s disgusting, I’m not doing that.”
Letecia said she wouldn’t be escorted to the hospital, and will drive herself when she’s ready for the exam. She insisted she get a break, go home, freshen up, and get some food.
While Letecia was not in the room and out in the hallway, a member of the Sheriff’s Office took her phone out of her hand. She became frustrated, and asked to see a warrant for taking the phone. The member of law enforcement said they’re applying for a warrant now.
The detectives told Letecia she has evidence on her body after the assault, and they cannot allow her to leave just yet.
Detectives are explaining to Letecia about why she can’t leave yet, and that she’s being held until they obtain the search warrant they need. This ended the interview video for now as court was dismissed.
Court will resume at 9 a.m. on Friday morning, with finishing watching the interview between Letecia and detectives.
This story was originally published April 12 by KOAA in Colorado Springs, an E.W. Scripps Company.