PRINT: Gannon Stauch missing poster (copy)

The search for Gannon Stauch, the 11-year-old boy who went missing from his Colorado Springs home more than two weeks ago, has expanded to include areas of northern El Paso County and southern Douglas County, according to a Wednesday tweet from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff's officials didn’t give a reason for the expanded search, which originally focused on a five-mile area around the boy's home in Lorson Ranch, a planned community at Marksheffel Road and Fontaine Boulevard in the city’s southeastern fringe.

Since Gannon went missing, authorities and hundreds of volunteers have searched fields and neighborhoods around Lorson Ranch, and, last week, a remote-operated underwater vehicle from Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Marine Evidence Recovery Team was dispatched to look for “key pieces” in a nearby pond. A spokeswoman for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said that such measures shouldn’t be taken as an indication that Gannon is no longer alive.

Gannon’s stepmother, Letecia Stauch, is reportedly the last person to see him, when he left home between 3:15 and 4 p.m. on January 27 to walk to a friend’s house. Police first considered him a runaway, but as the search dragged on that designation was changed to “endangered missing child” due to his age, need for medication and the cold weather.

On Tuesday, Stauch released a statement to FOX31 Denver thanking the public for its help and prayers and outlining the vicious criticism she’s received, online and in person, since he went missing. A Facebook page, Find Gannon Stauch, now has more than 20,000 members and more than 1,200 posts with tips and speculation about what happened to him.

“Social media has been devastating from the harsh comments, speculations, threats, cyberbullying, 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.,” according to Stauch’s statement. “Let’s do what Gannon would do. Be kind to one another! 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.”

The statement included a plea for Gannon to return home.

"Your daddy is waiting to watch the new Sonic movie that comes out this week and the cool shirt I got you to wear to the theater is in your closet," Stauch wrote.

It also reiterated some of the complaints and concerns she expressed in Jan. 31 interview with Gazette news partner KKTV, in which she maintained her constitutional rights had been violated during questioning by police.

A spokeswoman for the agency declined to comment on her claims, citing an ongoing investigation.

Gannon Stauch is 4 feet, 9 inches, with brown hair and brown eyes, and weighs 90 pounds. He was wearing a blue jacket and jeans the day he went missing.

Anyone with information is asked to call a tipline at 719-520-6666 or email shrtips@elpasoco.com.

Reporter

Stephanie Earls is a news reporter and columnist at The Gazette. Before moving to Colorado Springs in 2012, she worked for newspapers in upstate NY, WA, OR and at her hometown weekly in Berkeley Springs, WV, where she got her start in journalism.

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