The stepmother of a missing Colorado Springs-area boy claimed in an interview with KKTV Friday that the El Paso County Sheriff's Office violated her constitutional rights while questioning her.
Letecia "Tecia" Stauch was the last known person to see Gannon Stauch, 11, before he went missing Monday afternoon. Authorities said Gannon left to walk to a friend's house in their southeastern Colorado Springs neighborhood of Lorson Ranch near Fountain.
In an interview with Gazette news partner KKTV, Letecia Stauch claimed she was initially denied her request for a lawyer by Sheriff's Office detectives, who also would not let her have water or use a bathroom.
"The tactics (the detectives) started to get when I would answer questions ..." she told the TV station. "During that time, some of those things made me feel uncomfortable the way they were saying things.
"So I immediately stopped and felt like an attorney would help me with some of the vocabulary and things like that that I needed help with and understanding some of the things they were asking."
She also told KKTV that her 17-year-old daughter was briefly put in handcuffs when detectives pulled over their vehicle Thursday. She claims deputies had guns drawn and told her they were going to shoot her without identifying themselves as law enforcement officers.
Deb Mynatt, a spokeswoman for the agency, said she could not comment on Letecia Stauch's claims, citing an ongoing investigation. Mynatt could not comment if Letecia Stauch currently had a lawyer, either. Instead, she said, the agency is trying to keep the focus on finding Gannon, not on Letecia Stauch's statements to KKTV.
Since Gannon's disappearance, hundreds of volunteers have searched nearby fields and neighborhoods looking for signs of the missing boy. Friday, blue ribbons were placed throughout Gannon's neighborhood to show support for the family and let the boy know he's desperately missed, organizer Sara Robertson said.
Thousands have joined online "Find Gannon Stauch" Facebook pages over the week, filling pages upon pages with speculation about what happened to Gannon.
Authorities initially said his disappearance was being treated as a runaway. However, on Thursday, sheriff's investigators held a news conference with Gannon's parents and other relatives at which they said he is now considered an endangered missing child.
That designation was in recognition of his age, how long he's been missing, the cold, overnight temperatures and his need for medication. It also enabled the Sheriff's Office to access assistance from the FBI and other agencies.
In reference to the speculation that has been circulating online, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office said Thursday night that "misinformation spread on social media has been an absolute hindrance to this case."
Letecia Stauch told KKTV Friday that she's received numerous death threats.
"I took care of Gannon for the last two years in our home because his mother didn't want to do it," she said. "I would never ever, ever hurt this child ... these people have these conspiracy theories ... I'm like, 'Why are you saying Gannon is dead?' He is not dead. We are going to find Gannon."
Letecia Stauch reiterated that she and her family have been involved in the searches for Gannon, despite Facebook users claiming she's been "missing."
"I'm just ready for Gannon to come home," she said. "Most importantly for him to see his family, but second, I am going to be so ecstatic when I'm able to say to people that I hope they have a really sincere apology for all these theories that have (come) out online."
As of Friday, the Sheriff's Office has received 72 tips through the communication center, Pikes Peak Crime Stoppers, the agency's website and phone tipline, all of which are being "vetted," Mynatt said.
Friday, the office announced 11 groups assisting in search efforts:
The FBI Child Abduction Rapid Deployment, Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management, El Paso County Search and Rescue, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Colorado Springs Police Department, the Fountain Police Department, the Salvation Army, the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, the Army 4th Engineer Battalion, Flight for Life and the National Guard 100th Missile Defense Brigade.
Gannon's father, Albert Stauch, is a member of the National Guard 100th Missile Defense Brigade.
Thursday night, Stauch and Gannon's mother, Landen Hiott, pleaded with the public for information regarding their missing son.
"I have hope," Hiott, who lives in South Carolina, said to a bank of media cameras. "So please have hope with me. I'm begging: Bring my baby home."