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Weld County grand jury will investigate Jonelle Matthews cold case

Posted at 4:52 PM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 18:56:02-04

GREELEY, Colo. — A Weld County grand jury will investigate the death of Jonelle Matthews, the 12-year-old girl who went missing from her Greeley home in 1984 and whose remains were discovered in a rural field last summer.

The 19th Judicial District grand jury will work with the Weld County District Attorney's Office and the Greeley Police Department in the investigation, officials announced Tuesday.

Matthews' remains were discovered at an oil and gas site in Greeley on July 25, 2019, and new information was not being released Tuesday.

She was last seen going into her home after 8 p.m. on Dec. 20, 1984 after a friend and the friend's father dropped her off after a choir performance.

After she was reported missing, the community rallied together to search for her.

She lived with her parents and then-16-year-old sister on 43rd Avenue Court in Greeley and she attended Franklin Middle School.

In the past few years, investigators have sorted through all the evidence and conducted new and repeat interviews. Based on this renewed investigation, authorities have said they believe people in the community may have information that they had not yet shared with police.

Steve Pankey, a former Idaho governor candidate, was, as of September 2019, a person of interest in the case, Greeley police confirmed. Pankey told the Idaho Statesman newspaper in September that he was under investigation, and said he had offered to take polygraph test and claimed to have given officers his DNA.

But Greeley police disputed some of his claims.

They said Pankey had “made repeated efforts” to speak with detectives throughout their investigation, but when they went to Twin Falls, Idaho on Aug. 15, 2019, to try to talk with him, they say he refused “for reasons unknown.”

Greeley detectives and Twin Falls police obtained a warrant to search Pankey’s home and executed the warrant on Sept. 4, 2019, along with the Twin Falls Sheriff’s Office.

Greely police said that “at no point in time was a request made by law enforcement to obtain Steve Pankey’s DNA,” contradicting what he told the paper.

“Pankey remains a person of interest in the murder investigation of Jonelle Matthews,” police said in September.

Jonelle Matthews
Courtesy of Greeley Police Department