Father of Denver boy found encased in
concrete pleads guilty to Child Abuse;
murder charge dropped
DENVER, CO – The father of a 7-year-old Denver boy found encased in concrete in 2018 has pleaded guilty to a child abuse charge in the case, in exchange for prosecutors dropping the murder charge against him.
Leland Pankey, 40, was charged with murder in Caden McWilliams’ death in May. In a hearing on Thursday, he pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and tampering with a deceased human body.
The murder charge was dropped in the deal. Pankey now faces up to 72 years in prison.
“This agreement provides justice for Caden while ensuring that Mr. Pankey will serve a significant amount of time behind bars,” Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said in a news release Thursday. “This is one of the most horrific cases ever handled by the Denver DA’s Office and we were acutely concerned about re-traumatizing Caden’s family as well as the jury, judge and everyone else involved should this case proceed to trial.”
Pankey is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 28.
The body of McWilliams was found encased in concrete in a storage unit in the 5000 block of East Evans Avenue in Denver on Dec. 23, 2018.
McWilliams’ mother, Elisha Pankey, also pleaded guilty in August to one count of child abuse resulting in death.
The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner ruled in a report in March that Caden had been malnourished and had cocaine metabolite and methamphetamine in his system. The boy also had numerous injuries to his head, torso and extremities, according to the autopsy. He may have suffered from asphyxia, dehydration or hyperthermia, but that couldn’t be confirmed, the autopsy said.
In an interview with police in March, Elisha Pankey told investigators that Leland Pankey abused Caden while they were living in an extended-stay hotel, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. The couple and their two children had moved into the hotel in May 2018, and Leland Pankey watched the children while Elisha Pankey went to work, she told investigators.
Elisha Pankey said Caden died in July 2018 after his father kept him in a dog kennel, the affidavit said. A woman who had been in the Arapahoe County Jail with Elisha Pankey in December said Pankey told her that she believed her son suffocated in the dog kennel.
Leland Pankey kept Caden in the kennel overnight – with blankets on top of it – and the boy cried out that he was hot and thirsty, Elisha Pankey told her fellow inmate, according to the affidavit.
On the day Caden died, his mother and father bought Quikrete, trash bags and water, drove Caden’s body to the storage unit on Evans Avenue, and mixed the concrete and poured it into the kennel, the affidavit said.
The boy’s body wasn’t discovered until December, when officers responded to a domestic violence call involving the Pankeys.
Police learned that the couple had two children, and Elisha Pankey told officers that the children were with their father. When police contacted Leland Pankey, he said one child was in daycare, but he avoided answering questions about Caden, eventually telling officers the boy was with his mother, the affidavit said.
When officers interviewed a woman whose name was redacted in the affidavit, she told police that Leland Pankey had lost his son and that Pankey said her family could have their storage “because it had too many memories,” the affidavit said.
Investigators obtained a search warrant for the Pankeys’ storage unit and found Caden’s remains inside.
Sex offender expert arrested on
Child Abuse charges
COLUMBIA, MO – A Columbia forensic psychologist and national leader in the field of sex offender management has surrendered to St. Louis Metropolitan Police on warrants for child sex crimes in two Missouri counties.
Court filings show Kurt M. Bumby, 50, was arrested Friday by St. Louis Metropolitan Police on a Boone County warrant for two counts of statutory sodomy and a St. Louis warrant for two counts of sodomy. Bumby was booked into the St. Louis County Jail and posted a $200,000 cash-only bond — $100,000 each for the two sets of charges — to secure his release.
Defense attorney Joel Schwartz did not return calls or emails seeking comment.
Bumby for nearly two decades served as an advisor on sex offender management to governmental agencies across the nation. He is accused of molesting two children in incidents in both counties, the oldest of those charges stretching back to 1988.
In November, Bumby was paid $280,000 to present a report to the Arizona Supreme Court.
Court spokesman Aaron Nash on Monday said the court will conduct a review of the report, which was authored by Bumby and another, but many of the recommendations seem to be in line with what many experts say are current best practices.
“Most were not controversial, they were things like treatment should be specific to the individual,” Nash said. “But this is a big deal, so it’s something the Arizona Court is taking back to the National Center for State Courts, who provided the study, just to check back in and ask is there anything in here that reflects bias, is there anything that needs to be revisited.”
In the report, Bumby advocated for the elimination of polygraphs for juveniles, which Nash said has met with some controversy. In light of the recommendation, Nash said the court did agree to a judicial officer approval before the test could be administered.
“So it (a polygraph) is still an option, but a probation officer or somebody has to make the request to a judge, with the information why they think it’s appropriate for this child and this incident, and then the judge makes a decision,” Nash said.
Missouri Supreme Court spokeswoman Beth Riggert said on Friday she was unable to locate anything which showed Bumby had presented or made any recommendation to the courts in Missouri.
From 2003 until Jan. 1, during much of the time the alleged abuse was taking place, Bumby was a senior associate with the Center for Effective Public Policy, a position in which he discussed with and presented to judges, state officials and policymakers across the nation trends in the rehabilitation and recidivism of sex offenders.
As part of his duties, he has been the director of the Center for Sex Offender Management. He also served as principal assistant to the director of the Division of Youth Services in the period from about 1999 to 2003 and prior to that as a psychologist at Fulton State Hospital.
In the Boone County case, investigators with the Missouri State Highway Patrol wrote that Bumby sodomized a child who was a family friend multiple times between 2008 and 2015 at Bumby’s home in Columbia.
The case involving the St. Louis child dates 1988 to 1994, while Bumby was attending school at the University of Missouri, and again stemmed from a relationship he had with the victim’s family. He would visit the victim’s home on the weekends and began abusing them.
Education Official in N.Y. Is Accused of
Facilitating Child Sex Abuse
A high-ranking official in New York City’s Department of Education was arrested on Sunday in Wisconsin and accused of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, according to police officials there.
David A. Hay, the deputy chief of staff to schools chancellor Richard A. Carranza, was taken into custody at an airport in Milwaukee following an ongoing undercover investigation, said Officer Stuart Zuehls, a spokesman for the Neenah, Wis., police department.
Authorities in Wisconsin notified New York City officials hours after the arrest.
The Department of Education said it fired Mr. Hay after the arrest.
“These allegations are incredibly disturbing and absolutely unacceptable,” Miranda Barbot, a spokeswoman for the department, said in a statement. “We took immediate action removing Mr. Hay from payroll and are terminating him. We referred this to the Special Commissioner of Investigation and we will fully comply with any investigation.”
Mr. Hay, 39, did not regularly interact with students as part of his job, which was based at department headquarters in downtown Manhattan. Before moving to New York, however, Mr. Hay was a school principal in two Wisconsin school districts.
Officer Zuehls declined to offer more information about the charges or why Mr. Hay was arrested at an airport.
Under Wisconsin state law, someone who is accused of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime is defined as a person who “uses a computerized communication system to communicate with an individual who the actor believes or has reason to believe has not attained the age of 16 years with intent to have sexual contact or sexual intercourse with the individual.”
It is not yet clear when the investigation into Mr. Hay was launched, or whether Mr. Hay has obtained a lawyer.
The investigation was conducted by the Neenah police department, with help from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, though it is not yet clear what precise role the Milwaukee police played.
The investigation is ongoing, and there is no information yet about when Mr. Hay will be arraigned.
Mr. Hay grew up in the small town of Antigo, Wis., about three hours from Milwaukee, according to a 2017 interview.
Mr. Hay has served under both of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s schools chancellors: Mr. Carranza, who was appointed in the spring of 2018, and former chancellor Carmen Fariña.
He rose quickly in the Department of Education after joining in May 2016, first serving as a special assistant to Ms. Fariña while he was still a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, then helping oversee major programs — including the Renewal School initiative to help struggling schools — before being promoted to a deputy chief of staff last October, according to his page on LinkedIn.
He maintains an active Twitter account where he promotes Department of Education events and positive news stories about the department.
He spoke about his work at the Department of Education in a 2017 news item for the Harvard Graduate School of Education School’s website.
“To jump to the largest school system on the planet is incredible,” he said. “It’s humbling, challenging, and really promising.”
Day care owner charged with Child
Abuse after allegedly hiding 26 children
behind false wall
Colorado Springs, CO – Earlier this week, Colorado Springs, Colorado, day care owner Carla Faith, 58, was charged with child abuse and attempt to influence a public servant after 26 toddlers were found behind a false wall at Faith’s day care facility last month.
The day care attached as a secondary building from Faith’s home underwent a welfare check on Nov. 13 when authorities came across two adults and more than 20 children under the age of three. The search began after a series of complaints that Faith “was housing more children in their care than their licensed allowed,” the City of Colorado Springs said in a statement.
Colorado Springs officer Janel Langdon-Issac discovered the children and two adults in the basement of Faith’s home after hearing children’s music, despite Faith denying of having a lower ground floor, according to ABC affiliate KRDO.
During the search, Officer Jordan Parker bumped into a wall and felt it move, KRDO reported. When Officer Parker pushed against the wall, authorities discovered a stairwell leading to a finished basement area.
“I spend a minute or two in my car with a tear in my eye because I’m trusting somebody else,” said Ethan Steinberg, an uncle of an enrolled child, in an interview with KRDO. “ It took about an hour until [police] realized where the kids were and that breaks my heart because I don’t know if my niece was down there.”
KRDO also reports that Faith was caught in a similar situation during the late ’90s but in California.
“It’s just not something that’s part of our application process, nor do we really have the authority to require that information,” said Erin Mewhinney, the Division Director Of Early Childhood Care and Learning, in an interview with KRDO. “We’re working with the state board of human services to allow the department the authority to require child abuse and neglect records from other states of an applicant is coming in from another state.”
Faith’s day care license only permitted her to care for up to six children between the ages of zero and 13, more specifically, only two of these children could be under the age of two, according to an affidavit obtained by KRDO.
“It’s so hard to trust your children with people and we felt we could really trust them,” said parent Jeanette Conde to KRDO. “ I’m completely betrayed, every parent that I’ve talked to, we all feel completely betrayed.”