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Mother of 7-year-old Colo. boy encased in concrete pleads guilty to child abuse resulting in death

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Posted at 10:07 AM, Aug 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-01 15:17:15-04

DENVER — The mother of a 7-year-old boy who was found dead and encased in concrete inside a Denver storage unit last year pleaded guilty to a child abuse charge Thursday and will be sentenced to prison.

Elisha Pankey, 43, pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse resulting in death. She faces 16 to 32 years in prison when she’s sentenced in October.

Pankey’s son, Caden McWilliams, was found dead in a storage unit in the 5000 block of E. Evans Avenue in Denver on Dec. 23, 2018, and Pankey turned herself in to police several days later.

A report from the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner said McWilliams was malnourished at the time of his death. He had numerous injuries to his head, torso and extremities, some of which were healing, according to the autopsy. Cocaine metabolite and methamphetamine were detected in his liver tissue.

The boy’s father, Leland Pankey, was charged with murder in the case in May. In an interview with police, Elisha Pankey told investigators that Leland Pankey abused Caden while they were living in an extended-stay hotel and that he kept Caden in a dog kennel covered with blankets overnight.

Leland Pankey is set to appear in court on Sept. 13.

Timeline of events

July 2018 — Caden dies after his father keeps him inside a dog kennel overnight, Elisha Pankey tells police, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. The Pankeys fill the kennel with Quikrete and take Caden's remains to a storage unit, Elisha Pankey says.

Dec. 21, 2018 — An Aurora officer discovers heroin inside a hotel room belonging to Elisha Pankey after responding to a domestic violence call

Dec. 22, 2018 — Elisha Pankey is arrested at an Aurora hotel for felony drug possession amid a missing child investigation. She is booked into the Arapahoe County Jail.

Dec. 23, 2018 — The body of Caden, the Pankeys' missing 7-year-old son, is discovered inside of a Denver storage unit.

Dec. 24, 2018 — Elisha Pankey is released from Arapahoe County Jail after posting a $1,000 personal recognizance bond in the drug possession case.

Dec. 28, 2018 — Elisha Pankey is formally charged with a felony drug possession count and a drug paraphernalia possession count.

Jan. 2, 2019 — Elisha Pankey turns herself into the Denver Police Department on a charge of child abuse resulting in death.

Jan. 3, 2019 — The suspect makes her first court appearance in connection with the child abuse resulting in death case.

Jan. 7, 2019 – Elisha Pankey is formally charged with child abuse resulting in death and abuse of a corpse in connection to this case.

March 2019 – The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner rules that Caden was malnourished and had cocaine metabolite and methamphetamine in his system.

March 15, 2019 – In an interview with police, Elisha Pankey says Leland Pankey abused Caden while they were living in the hotel and that Caden died after being kept inside a dog kennel, an affidavit says.

May 30, 2019 – The Denver District Attorney's Office announces that Caden's father, Leland Pankey, has been charged with murder in the case.

Aug. 1, 2019 – Elisha Pankey pleads guilty to one count of child abuse resulting in death and agrees to a sentence of 16 to 32 years in prison.