EL PASO COUNTY — The search for missing 11-year-old Gannon Stauch continues as groups of volunteers spread out southeast of Colorado Springs. The past 48 hours saw snowfall in the area, as well as temperatures near zero degrees. With snow in the forecast in the coming days, rescuers believe the coming hours may be the best opportunity to fan across the area to search for signs of the boy.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office (EPCSO) says crews are out near Big Johnson Reservoir next to Powers Boulevard south of the Colorado Springs Airport using new equipment to continue the search.
According to a tweet from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, officials from nearby Douglas and Fremont Counties are joining the search, as well as volunteers from the National Guard. The crews are using rescue dogs and a utility vehicle known as a "Razor."
Search crews are using a submersible remotely operated vehicle to search bodies of water.
Sgt. Deborah Mynatt of the EPSCO said neighbors would see crime lab techs return to the Stauch home in the Lorson Ranch neighborhood as they work to gather more evidence in the investigation that may help any search efforts. She confirms the case is still considered a missing and endangered persons investigation.
According to Mynatt, the EPCSO is also using the resources from a 500 member strong volunteer community.
The Emergency Incident Support Group is also assisting in the search. The group makes sure the volunteers have what they need to continue the search.
"We call them the heroes, and they call us the heroes for feeding them and keeping them well fed and watered," said Gary Nelson, the treasurer of the Emergency Incident Support Group.
Whether or not the people there were out searching, or helping those volunteers, they all have the same mission
"Gannon, if you're watching this, you just have to know that the hearts and minds of the people in this community are there looking for you. Come back home soon," Nelson said.
According to one Lorson Ranch neighbor, there will be a candlelight prayer for Gannon on Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the corner of Fontaine and Carriage Meadows.
Parents' plea for help
On Wednesday, Gannon's parents, Landen Hiott and Al Stauch, released a tearful video statement with Gannon's sister pleading for his return.
The past nine days have been filled with support from the community, and Hiott says the neighborhood is a "true example" of who Gannon is.
"Everybody coming together, all the smiles that people have, this is why I have hope," she said. "Because I feel it. This is Gannon truly speaking to our community."
And while there is support, Al Stauch describes the past eight days as a rollercoaster of emotion.
"Sometimes we jump for joy because we get information that we think might be a break in the case, and then the next minute we see something or get information that just breaks our heart into a million pieces again," he said. "But through all this, just know that your thoughts and your prayers and your messages keep them coming because even if we don't respond, we are receiving them, and that has given us strength to get through this."
Gannon's mother begged for the community to call the Sheriff's Office with any information that can help bring their son home.
"If you have anything that's credible; if you're afraid, don't worry about it. Imagine my son, imagine how afraid he is, imagine how afraid Gannon is. So please call, please write. If you need someone else to do it for you, please do, because my son deserves to be here," Hiott said.
This video statement released by the county comes one day after an interview at the EPSCO, where Mynatt refused to answer questions about a video that investigators received from a neighbor Monday. She repeated concerns that releasing the video to the public could compromise the investigation. She is asking for anyone in the area to provide footage to investigators.
According to a neighbor, the video he turned over to investigators Monday is a key piece of evidence. He says it shows Letecia Stauch, Gannon's stepmother, getting into a vehicle with the boy on Jan. 27, the day he was reported missing. The video later shows Letecia returning home without Gannon.
The EPCSO and crime lab techs were collecting evidence from the Stauch home, but there is no word on whether investigators had a search warrant or if there was a specific piece of evidence on which they were focusing. No further information about the activity at the house has been released by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
EPCSO said they had received 231 tips so far and that the Crime Lab Unit will continue to collect evidence from the Stauch house for the next few days. While District Attorney Dan May was spotted at the Stauch home in recent days, EPSCO said that does not mean the search efforts are changing.
Jacqueline Kirby with the EPSCO said it hasn't dealt with a similar situation since 2015 and that they are doing everything they can to bring Gannon home safe.
"The thought of your child being missing, not knowing where they may be, is torture for any parent. And Gannon's family, Gannon's parents are living every parent's worst nightmare," Kirby said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office tip line at (719) 520-6666 or at email@example.com
This story was originally published by KOAA in Colorado Springs, Colorado.