DENVER (CBS4) – The community at Ellis Elementary was devastated when one of their students was killed. Caden McWilliams died in the summer of 2018.

Caden McWilliams (credit: Facebook)

“It was really hard,” said Christina Hafler, a teacher at Ellis Elementary. “I don’t think you know anyone expected anything like this to happen. Kids were heartbroken. His former classmates and students were just completely heartbroken.”

(credit: CBS)

Caden’s body was found encased in cement in a storage unit in December of 2018. His mother, Elisha Pankey, is accused of his death.

Christina Hafler (credit: CBS)

Hafler knew Caden and says he had a personality that stood out.

“He was always such a bright shining student. He was always so kind. He was so popular. He would walk into the cafeteria and kids would say ‘Caden come sit by me.’ Everybody was always so excited to see him. He always was smiling and such a pleasure to have in class,” Hafler said.

(credit: CBS)

That’s why the parents and students who were a part of his life have decided to do something to honor him and his memory. They want to paint a mural on this wall and dedicate a bench or tree near the playground.

“We’re trying to raise funds to build a memorial to recognize Caden and remember his life and all the contributions he made to Ellis as well as give the kids and the community at Ellis… a place to go to really remember him by,” said Hafler.

(credit: CBS)

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They need to raise $5,000 to get it all done, but they have faith the community will come through.

Caden McWilliams (credit: Martha McWilliams/Facebook)

“As a whole the community has really been supportive of our effort and wanting to just help us to make sure that no other child has to experience this.”

LINK: Caden McWilliams Memorial GoFundMe

Michael Abeyta

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