Face of evil: Leland Pankey [photo] was accused of keeping his starving son starved in a dog cage, where the 7-year-old died. He then covered the body in concrete
A 40-year-old Colorado man whose emaciated 7-year-old son’s body was found encased in concrete at Christmas two years ago has been jailed for 72 years.
Caden McWilliams suffered horrific child abuse before he died weighing only 27 pounds at the hands of his father.
Caden reportedly, died after suffering severe child abuse for weeks. His body was found encased in concrete in a Denver storage unit in December 2018.
Investigators believed the boy had been dead for months.
Victim: Caden McWilliams died after suffering severe child abuse for weeks at the hands of his father with the complicity of his mother
Caden had multiple injuries and bone fractures to the head, torso and limbs, including some that showed evidence of healing
Caden’s emaciated, decomposed body was found two days before Christmas 2018, encased in concrete inside a dog carrier hidden in a storage unit.
He had multiple injuries and bone fractures to the head, torso and limbs, including some that showed evidence of healing.
Toxicology results also showed he had cocaine metabolite and methamphetamine in his liver tissue.
Leland Pankey, 40, of Denver, pled guilty in January to charges of child abuse resulting in death and tampering with a deceased human body. The 72-year sentence is the maximum the court could pass.
Prosecutors dropped a murder charge under the deal, partly because authorities could not specify how the boy died.
They also said the deal avoided holding a trial that would have featured gruesome evidence and re-traumatized Caden’s relatives and those in court.
Denver District Attorney Beth McCann called it “one of the most horrific cases ever handled by the Denver DA’s Office.”
“Pankey’s offenses were intentional, deliberate, calculated, callous, self-serving and depraved of any sense of humanity or human kindness.
“[The crimes] shock the conscience and are incomprehensible to the people of Denver,” McCann said.
In January prosecutors agreed to drop the first-degree murder charge against Pankey in exchange for the lesser charges of child abuse resulting in death and tampering with a deceased human body
“Pankey’s offenses were intentional, deliberate, calculated, callous, self-serving and depraved of any sense of humanity or human kindness,” – Denver DA. Leland Pankey appeared emotionless as photos of his victim were played during the hearing
On Friday Pankey sat emotionless as photos of his smiling son flashed across a screen in the courtroom. Caden’s relatives urged the judge to ensure that Pankey would never walk free and try to contact or victimize Caden’s sister, who was 4 years old when her brother died.
The little girl, who witnessed the ongoing abuse that led up to Caden’s demise, used to feed her emaciated and starving brother cereal through the bars of the dog kennel in which he was kept.
The girl was so deeply traumatized by her brother’s death that her aunt said she sometimes sits on the floor and rocks herself for comfort.
The little boy’s drug addled birth mother Elisha McWilliams Pankey [photo], who was convicted as a co-defendant in the case is due to be sentenced in April. She faces 16 to 32 years in prison. She faced one count of child abuse resulting in death and one count of abuse of a corpse
Caden’s mother, Elisha McWilliams Pankey, 44, told police she was aware of her husband’s treatment of the child; while in custody for unrelated charges, she told another inmate that they kept Caden in a pet carrier overnight at times and ignored his complaints of being hot and thirsty.
Court records state that Elisha Pankey said that they found Caden dead one morning and they believe that he suffocated.
An autopsy later revealed that McWilliams was greatly emaciated prior to his death and he’d sustained injuries to his head, chest, and various limbs.
Elisha Pankey was charged that January with child abuse resulting in death and abuse of a corpse. She faces 16 to 32 years in prison.
Denver District Judge A. Bruce Jones said: “I reject the idea that Caden slipped through the cracks.
“He was dragged through the cracks by the defendant and co-defendant.”
Authorities found Caden’s body in December 2018 while investigating allegations of domestic violence that Elisha Pankey made against her husband.
An autopsy found signs that the boy was severely emaciated and evidence of injuries to his head, chest and limbs. Some of the injuries showed signs of healing, but authorities were not able to determine how he died.
Court documents revealed that Elisha Pankey allegedly told investigators that her husband kept their son in a dog kennel “a few days” before he died in July 2018 at a hotel where the family had been living.
Caden McWilliams, 7, was found encased in concrete and plastic bags. He allegedly died in July, 2018 – Elisha Pankey told a witness Caden was in a dog crate one day in July, at which time her husband, Leland Pankey, put blankets on top of the carrier.
McCann described Caden as a “loved” and “caring” boy who “had an inner light” with a “gentle nature” who “loved to tinker” and would have grown up to become an engineer.
Caden allegedly died in July.
His mother, Elisha Pankey, told a witness Caden was in a dog crate one day in July, at which time Leland put blankets on top of the carrier.
Elisha heard the boy cry out that he was hot and thirsty but said she just stayed in bed.
The next morning she found Caden dead.
She told police that her husband took the boy’s body — still inside the animal carrier —to the storage unit, poured concrete over him and wrapped the carrier in plastic trash bags.
The case came to light after Elisha reported a domestic assault, but then was found to have heroin on her and the business card for the storage lot where Caden’s body was eventually found.
When Leland was later arrested he had half an ounce of methamphetamine in his BMW.
Uncaring mom, Elisha Pankey was charged in January 2019 with one count of child abuse resulting in death and one count of abuse of a corpse.
She is scheduled to be sentenced on April 1, where, as the result of an earlier plea deal, which reportedly specifies a sentence of between 16 and 32 years in prison.
Elisha Pankey’s sister Sarah Cruz spoke fondly about her nephew during Leland Pankey’s sentencing: “I was in the room when Caden was born. I saw his sweet little face and was immediately smitten.”
“As Caden grew, it became apparent that he had a very old soul. He was sweet and gentle and our entire family fell in love with him,” Cruz said.
Cruz is now the guardian of Caden’s 4-year-old sister, who she described as a “miracle” and a “survivor.”