39-year-old Leland Pankey has been charged with the murder of his son, Caden McWilliams, 7. The boy’s body was found on December 23rd in Pankey’s storage unit. The boy had been encased in concrete and stored there.
Pankey’s history with the child has been riddled with abusive and neglectful behavior. The abuse dates back to May 2018 or further according to Elisha Pankey, Caden’s mother. Pankey was routinely watching their two children while Elisha worked. Investigators have determined that Elisha knew about the abuse and did nothing to stop it.
While under Leland’s watch, Caden was rarely feeding the boy, beating him and days before his death, Leland had been keeping the boy in a dog kennel at night. Leland kept the kennel covered with a blanket. According to a statement from an inmate kept in Arapahoe County Jail, who spoke to Elisha Pankey, the boy would consistently beg for water and release, and that Elisha believed the boy suffocated in the cage.
The inmate also reported that Elisha had told her about the day of Caden’s death. Allegedly Leland was mishandling the boy, holding and lifting him by the neck and off the floor. He went into the bathroom with the boy, where Elisha heard a scuffle ensue, then Leland came out of the bathroom alone, telling Elisha they “can’t save both children.” The parents then removed the boy’s body from the hotel, in the carrier, acquired some concrete and took him to the storage unit. Their they covered him in concrete and encased the kennel in trash bags.
The discovery of the boy’s body resulted from a domestic abuse call made by Elisha in December. Elisha was arrested by authorities for possession of heroin found in the hotel room. During questioning about the situation, there were discrepancies between the two parent’s stories about the whereabouts of the children, specifically Caden. The investigation turned into a missing child investigation. Following up on this led authorities to the storage unit where they found Caden’s body.
An autopsy report performed later revealed Caden’s malnourishment and the presence of methamphetamine and cocaine. There were multiple injuries across the boy’s body as well.
District Attorney Beth McCann released a statement in regard to the investigation, “What began as a domestic violence call to the Aurora Police Department rapidly evolved into a homicide investigation because responding officers cared enough to ensure the involved children were safe. We have now implicated both parents in this truly horrific crime.”