The stepmother of missing 11-year-old Gannon Stauch has been charged with his murder, Colorado authorities said Monday.
Leticia Stauch was arrested in South Carolina, where she is being held without bail in Horry County. She faces extradition to Colorado Springs, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder said at a news conference.
The child was reported missing on Jan. 27 by his stepmom, who said he was last seen at home between 3:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. Stauch told investigators Gannon had left to walk to a friend's house, but never arrived, authorities said.
The charges against her are first-degree murder of a child under 12 by a trusted person, child abuse resulting in death, tampering with a human corpse and tampering with physical evidence, the sheriff said.
Gannon's body has not been found.
But Colorado authorities said Monday they have little hope in the case.
"We sadly do not believe Gannon is alive," sheriff's Lt. Mitch Mihalko said. No details were provided as to what led authorities to file charges against the stepmother.
About a week after Gannon vanished, a neighbor came forward after spending hours sifting through surveillance footage from his home's outside camera, he said. Roderrick Dayton said his video showed Gannon getting into the family's truck with Leticia Stauch. Hours later, she returned home alone, he said.
Dayton said he took the footage to Gannon's father, Albert Stauch, who broke sobbing and said, "she lied ... he didn't go to a friend's house." The two took the video to authorities, who haven't disputed Dayton's account, KRDO-TV reported.
The boy's mother, Landen Hiott, who has made tearful appeals alongside her ex-husband for the safe return of their son, said Monday she was horrified.
"I never thought I would be standing here," she told reporters. "This is a nightmare."