The search has intensified for an 11-year-old boy in Colorado who vanished a week ago after leaving his home to play with a friend.
Now his stepmother is urging the community to stop spreading online rumors vilifying her.
Gannon Stauch went missing on Jan. 27 after he set out on foot to a nearby friend's house in Colorado Springs, his stepmother, Letecia "Tecia" Stauch, told the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. After initially categorizing Gannon as a runaway, the case was upgraded to a missing/endangered persons case.
Officials have not said if he made it to the friend's house.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office told ABC News on Monday that the search for Gannon would continue as long as conditions allowed. A snowstorm was hitting the state and accumulation in the area was expected to reach up to 6 inches, according to local forecasts.
Hundreds of residents as well as multiple law enforcement agencies including the FBI were said to be helping in the search.
Letecia Stauch, who says she was the last person to see Gannon, told KKTV, the CBS affiliate in Colorado Springs, that her family had received more than 20 death threats.
"I took care of Gannon for the last two years in our home. I would never, never, ever hurt this child. And I know there are some questions out there ... that's up to the investigations -- when they end up letting you guys know -- but I've cooperated with them," she told KKTV. "We are going to find Gannon and that's the main goal that we all have. I'm just ready for Gannon to come home."
On Friday, Gannon Stauch's birth mother, Landen Hiott, expressed gratitude for those helping to look for him and begged everyone to stay vigilant. Hiott said Gannon requires special medication.
"My son is a very loving kid. He wouldn't want harm on anybody at all and it's so hard to just think, 'Why is this happening to him?' I have no clue," she said. "My kid deserves to come home. My kid has a purpose, my kid has a life and is important to me and is important to everybody that is standing in this room. Please have hope with me."
Gannon was last seen wearing a blue jacket, blue jeans and sneakers. He has brown hair and brown eyes and is about 4-foot-9 and 90 pounds.
Search intensifies for missing 11-year-old as stepmother receives death threats
More TOP STORIES News