Beth McCann

District Attorney

Second Judical District

201 W, Colfax Ave, Dept. 801
Denver, CO 80202


News Release

August 12, 2020 Contact: Carolyn Tyler, Communications Director,, 720-913-9025

Caden McWilliams’ Mother, Elisha Pankey, Receives Maximum Sentence

DENVER—Denver DA Beth McCann today announced that Elisha Pankey (age 45), the biological mother of deceased seven-year-old Caden McWilliams, received the maximum sentence of 32 years in the Department of Corrections and five years of mandatory parole by District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones. Last August, Elisha Pankey pleaded guilty to the felony charge of child abuse resulting in death for her role in Caden’s death. On February 29, 2020, Caden’s father, Leland Pankey, received the maximum sentence of 72 years for his role in Caden’ death. In addition, the courts ordered restitution of more than $6,000 to be paid by both parents.

In response to the sentencing and conclusion of the case, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann issued the below statement.

“The horrific death of Caden McWilliams shocked the conscience and was incomprehensible to the people of Denver. Now that Elisha Pankey has been sentenced, the legal proceedings in this case have concluded. Yet Caden’s story is one that will always be in my heart, the hearts of our incredible prosecutors, victim advocates and investigators, as well as everyone who knew and loved Caden.

A parent’s job is to above all else, protect his or her child and as a community, we trust that when families go behind their closed doors, children are being loved and cared for. Elisha Pankey failed in this societal compact so we are grateful to Judge Jones for ordering the appropriate punishment.

I again thank the Aurora and Denver Police Departments for their dogged and excellent investigative work and members of my office for finding the courage and professionalism to see this case through to conclusion.”