DENVER – The mother of a 7-year-old boy whose body was found encased in concrete in a storage unit in 2018 was sentenced to 32 years in prison on Wednesday for her role in his death.
The sentence was the maximum that Elisha Pankey could receive after pleading guilty to a felony charge of child abuse resulting in the death of Caden McWilliams, which Caden’s extended family had requested.
Caden’s father, Leland Pankey, 40, was sentenced to 72 years in prison in February after pleading guilty to child abuse resulting in death and tampering with his son’s body.
Elisha Pankey’s lawyer told Judge A. Bruce Jones that her life spiraled out of control the year before Caden died because of domestic abuse, mental health problems and drug addiction, but she took full responsibility for her part in his death, The Denver Post reported.
Prosecutors dropped a murder charge against Leland Pankey, partly because authorities could not specify how the boy died and to avoid an emotionally difficult trial for Caden’s family.
Authorities found Caden’s body in December 2018 while investigating allegations of domestic violence that Elisha Pankey made against her husband.
An autopsy found signs that the boy was severely emaciated and evidence of injuries to his head, chest and limbs. Some of the injuries showed signs of healing, but authorities were not able to determine how he died.
Court documents revealed that Elisha Pankey allegedly told investigators that her husband kept their son in a dog kennel “a few days” before he died in July 2018 at a hotel where the family had been living.