(NewsNation) — In a move some call “outright disgusting,” a YouTuber obtained gruesome autopsy photos of a murdered 11-year-old boy and then charged money for people to view them.
“She was making money off of that little boy’s autopsy photos,” NewsNation senior national correspondent Brian Entin said. “Autopsy photos of a severely beaten to death little boy … Really, they just have no place on the internet.”
Entin reports the YouTuber going by the name “Zav Girl” sent in a Freedom of Information Act request for the autopsy photos of 11-year-old Gannon Stauch, who was fatally stabbed and shot by his stepmother in 2020.
Once the pictures were released to the person running the “Zav Girl” account, Entin says she charged her followers $3 on Patreon to view them.
“For this YouTuber to go to all that trouble to request them, to pay the money to get them from the government and not only post them, but then to charge people to see them … I mean, I just find it sick,” Entin said.
After receiving backlash, the YouTuber posted a statement about the controversy, but it was later deleted.
In part, she posted: “The reality of the situation is that different people feel differently about this. Some people genuinely think making a video including the autopsy photos is bad and I respect their opinion and feelings. Other people, like myself, think of autopsy photos and the coroner discussing/explaining them as interesting and informative and are able to view it all in a more scientific detached way.”
While Entin knows many responsible true-crime YouTubers, he thinks this boils down to a bad apple who crossed the line to exploit a grieving family.
“It’s sick. It’s deranged, and you should just own up to it,” Entin, who has covered criminal cases extensively, said. “Whoever you are, wherever you live, maybe get out from behind your computer screen, go to the local courthouse and actually sit through a murder trial and see what it’s like for the families in real life.”
While appearing on “Dan Abrams Live” on Tuesday evening, Michael Allen, the lead prosecutor on the Stauch case, said his office reached out the child’s family about the photos but there’s not much they can do to completely take the photos down once they have been shared on the internet.
“It’s just completely disrespectful to the family members that have had to live through this horror. But even more so, Gannon deserved so much more in life from his stepmother and he certainly deserves dignity and respect in death,” Allen said. “There’s nothing about what this YouTuber is doing, and I think there’s another one out there as well … that provides any dignity or respect to Gannon.”
Allen thinks the reasoning behind releasing the photos “rings hollow” and thinks there are other ways to scientifically show what happened.
“They could have used body diagrams that the autopsy also included, instead of putting the actual pictures of Gannon’s just completely broken body that reflects the depravity and horror that he had to live through,” Allen said.
He continued: “It just speaks to the lowest of human forms, in my opinion.”
A representative with Patreon confirmed Thursday that Zav Girl’s account has been removed from their platform.
“We removed “Zav Girl” from Patreon for violations of our Community Guidelines for Violent and Graphic Content. To create a safe environment for users, Patreon does not allow content glorifying or promoting violence of any kind,” the spokesperson told NewsNation.
Prosecutors said Letecia Stauch stabbed Gannon 18 times in Colorado while the child tried to fight her off before she hit him in the head and then shot him. From there, she stuffed the 11-year-old’s body in a suitcase and drove to Florida to dump it over a bridge.
Allen says since the autopsy was performed in Florida, they approved the Freedom of Information Act request.
“Florida law allows these sorts of things to go out,” Allen said, later adding: “Maybe we need to look at changing the law as it relates to autopsy photos being released on the internet.”
The images of Gannon’s body are so graphic, parts of them were blocked at Letecia Stauch’s trial. Stauch was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.