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Former Idaho governor candidate investigated in 1984 Jonelle Matthews killing

Jonelle Matthews
Posted at 11:56 AM, Sep 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-13 17:21:24-04

GREELEY, Colo. – Greeley police confirmed Friday that a former Idaho gubernatorial candidate is a person of interest in the 1984 kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews.

Steve Pankey, who ran as a Republican in the 2018 gubernatorial primary and as a Constitution Party candidate in 2014, told the Idaho Statesman this week that he was under investigation by police in connection with the Greeley cold case.

Matthews went missing on Dec. 20, 1984 after a choir performance. In July, construction crews in Weld County found bones at a site, which were identified as those of Matthews.

Pankey spoke with the Idaho paper this week and said he was trying to be transparent. He said he had offered to take a polygraph test and claimed to have given officers his DNA.

But Greeley police disputed some of his claims on Friday afternoon.

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 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 along with the Twin Falls Sheriff’s Office.

Greely police said Friday 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.