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Charges Filed Against Father In Death Of His 7-Year-Old Son

DENVER (CBS4) -- Leland Pankey, the biological father of 7-year-old Caden McWilliams, has been charged with murder in the child's death.

Leland Pankey (credit: Denver District Attorney's Office)

Charges filed against the boy's mother, Elisha Pankey, back in January.

On Dec. 23, 2018, a large block of cement was found inside a dog carrier in a storage unit at 5005 E. Evans Ave., according to the Denver District Attorney's Office.

storage unit caden mcwilliams
(credit: Sebastian Hernandez)

The next day, the Denver Medical Examiner's Office removed the remains of what appeared to be a child from the block of cement.

On Feb. 28, 2019, the autopsy report indicated that body was that of Caden McWilliams.

Caden McWilliams Pankey
Caden McWilliams (credit: Facebook)

The boy had methamphetamine in his system, according to the forensic pathologist. McWilliams also had numerous injuries on his head and body, and was severely emaciated. Investigators could not determine the cause of death but said child maltreatment was a contributing factor.

"It is possible the decedent experienced complications of injuries (e.g., infection or sepsis); however, he may have also suffered a component of asphyxia, dehydration, and/or hyperthermia, which cannot be confirmed," the autopsy report stated.

"Of note, there is also detection of a cocaine metabolite and methamphetamine in liver tissue obtained at autopsy," the report states. "Given the highly suspicious nature to this death, the findings of the postmortem examination, and that the decedent is a young child who is dependent on others for his care, the manner of death is homicide."

Caden McWilliams (credit: Martha McWilliams/Facebook)

His mother, Elisha Pankey, was formally charged with child abuse resulting in death and abuse of a corpse.

Elisha Pankey
(credit: Denver Police)

Court records show Leland Pankey, 39, was arrested for possession of heroin on Dec. 22, 2018, the day before his son's body was found.

Court records show he was also arrested in November 2017, after allegedly choking his wife until she lost consciousness. According to the affidavit, two children were home during the alleged attack. In January, a judge granted an order of protection for Pankey's other son, Camden, and appointed a legal guardian for him.

"We have now implicated both parents in this truly horrific crime," said District Attorney Beth McCann. "The one thing that I am happy to report is that Caden's younger sister is safe and adjusting well."

Pankey now faces three counts: murder in the first degree, child abuse resulting in death, and tampering with a deceased human. Pankey has a hearing in this case set for June 27.

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