Murder charge dropped for father accused in death of boy found encased in concrete in Denver storage unit

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Leland Pankey. Credit: Denver DA

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DENVER -- The murder charge for a father whose 7-year-old son who was found dead in a Denver storage unit in December 2018 has been dropped.

Leland Pankey, 39, appeared in court Thursday morning facing charges for first-degree murder,  child abuse resulting in death and tampering with a deceased human in the death of 7-year-old Caden McWilliams.

The murder charge was dropped. Pankey pleaded guilty to the child abuse and tampering counts.

He faces up to 72 years in prison. He will be sentenced on Feb. 28.

McWilliams’ mother, Elisha Pankey, pleaded guilty in August to child abuse resulting in death. The plea agreement approved by a judge recommends that Elisha Pankey spend between 16 and 32 years in prison. Her sentencing is expected soon.

McWilliams' body was found in a storage unit in southeast Denver encased in cement in a dog carrier inside a storage unit in the 5000 block of East Evans Avenue on Dec. 23, 2018.

Police discovered the body after a domestic violence call.

The Denver District Attorney's Office said responding officers were trying to make sure all children involved were safe and were unable to find McWilliams.

The boy had a little sister and she is safe and adjusting well, prosecutors said.

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