Update 1/10/19 – Pankey was formally charged on Monday with child abuse in connection with the death of her son, Caden McWilliams. She was also charged with abuse of a corpse, according to the source.
Police have yet to release information about the exact date the child was reported missing or how he died. Records filed by prosecutors on Monday only indicate a range of when authorities believe the crimes occurred. They estimate McWilliams died between May 20 and Aug. 1, and the abuse of the corpse took place between May 1 and Sept. 1. A spokesperson for the Denver Police Department told “The Associated Press” last week that investigators estimate McWilliams last attended school in May.
No attorney has been listed in court records for Pankey, who couldn’t comment on the charges during her court appearance. A judge has sealed the case records, including a document that outlines the reasons for Pankey’s arrest, the source reported.
Ellis Elementary School will have grief counselors available for students and staff this week, the source reported.
1/7/19 – The mother of a missing 7-year-old boy turned herself over to police last week after his body was discovered inside a Denver self-storage unit on Dec. 23. Police believe Caden McWilliams may have been dead since late May, though the homicide data doesn’t indicate how he died. McWilliams was found at the Public Storage facility at 5005 E. Evans Ave., according to a source.
Elisha McWilliams Pankey, 43, turned herself in on Jan. 2 after a warrant was issued for her arrest in connection with her son’s death. She appeared in court on Thursday, where her attorney waived the reading of the investigative charges of child abuse resulting in death, a class-two felony. A judge set her bond at $250,000. Pankey has been ordered to have no contact with her other child, who’s in the custody of Arapahoe County Department of Social Services.
An autopsy was performed, but the cause and manner of McWilliam’s death remains under investigation. No Amber Alert was issued for the child, and police haven’t released information about when he was reported missing or by whom. Authorities said they were led to the storage facility through a tip, a source reported.
Pankey was arrested on Dec. 22 at a hotel in Aurora, Colo., on charges of possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia. She was released from jail two days later on a personal recognizance bond. The Aurora Police Department contacted Denver police regarding the missing boy after he was discovered, a source reported.
An online records search shows Pankey was arrested previously for driving violations, including suspected drunk driving, but she doesn’t have a history of violence, a source reported.
Pankey’s former landlord, Tina Wright, told several sources that the family struggled to pay the rent and were eventually evicted from Cherry Plaza Apartments. Wright also suggested there had been instances of domestic violence between Pankey and her husband, Leland Pankey. Public records from 2011 show Leland Pankey is either McWilliams’ father or a guardian.
Police arrested Leland Pankey on Dec. 21 on a warrant for a 2017 domestic-violence charge. He’s being held on a $25,000 bond and hasn’t been charged in connection with the child’s death.
McWilliams attended Ellis Elementary School in Denver’s Virginia Village neighborhood. The school’s principal, Nichole Whiteman, called the boy a “model student” in a statement. “Caden McWilliams was the sweetest boy. He stood out from others from the moment he walked through the school doors every morning with a huge smile on his face,” Whiteman wrote. “His smile and eyes showed how kind and sweet he was at the core. Other students wanted to be his friend and looked to Caden for what to do next.”
Heavy.com, Elisha Pankey: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
The Denver Post, Police Arrest Mother in Connection With Death of 7-Year-Old Son Found in Denver Storage Unit
Local 12, Mother Charged in Death of Boy Found in Denver Storage Unit