Caden McWilliams, age 7, died as a result of abuse by his mother, Elisha Pankey. Pankey claimed to be homeschooling Caden in order to cover up his death. Caden’s sibling, who lived in the home, was not reported to be abused.
Caden’s mother married his stepfather, Leland Pankey, in 2014. Leland Pankey assaulted Elisha Pankey in November 2017. In early 2018 Caden was living with Elisha Pankey and her sister. According to their landlord, Elisha Pankey had recently “changed from a really outgoing person [to a] hermit that just wanted to stay in her house”. The family was evicted in early 2018. During the 2017-2018 school year, Caden attended Ellis Elementary School; his school principal “described Caden as a hard worker who did well academically and who was always positive, caring and lived the Ellis core value of Integrity.” Caden last attended school on May 24, 2018, even though the school year did not end until May 31. Police say that he died around this time and his body was then concealed in a storage unit. In August 2018, Pankey notified Caden’s school that he would be homeschooled that year in order to hide the fact that he was already dead.
It is unclear how Caden’s death came to light, except that the Denver police received a tip from the Aurora police department. Leland Pankey was arrested Dec. 21, 2018 on a warrant from the 2017 assault. Elisha Pankey was arrested the same day on a drug charge, released after Caden’s body was found, and later formally charged with child abuse resulting in Caden’s death. She turned herself in to the police again shortly afterwards.
Date: May 24, 2018
Location: Denver, Colorado