Invisible Children

Caden McWilliams

Content note: Case narratives include descriptions of severe violence inflicted on children, including abuse and neglect, sexual violence, torture, and murder, as well as mentions of suicide and domestic violence. They also include photos of victims and perpetrators of violence.

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
Denver, Colorado


Documents: Date:
Police arrest mother in connection with death of 7-year-old son found in Denver storage unit 01-03-2019
Woman arrested in death of 7-year-old boy found dead inside Denver storage shed 01-03-2019
7-year-old boy found in Denver storage unit may have been dead since May, records say 01-03-2019
Police: 7-Year-Old Boy Found In Storage Unit Died In May 01-04-2019
Statement on the Death of Former Ellis Student Caden McWilliams 01-04-2019
Mother Arrested After Boy, 7, Found Dead in Storage Unit Believed to Have Been Killed in May 01-04-2019
Husband of mom, who turned herself in after 7-year-old found dead, in court for assault charges 01-04-2019
Home schooling may have helped hide Denver boy’s death for months 01-04-2019