Man charged with murder for 1984 killing of Jonelle Matthews.

In December of 1984, 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews was taken from her family home in Greeley, Colorado at gunpoint, just days before Christmas. It would be decades before her family would have any knowledge of what became of her, it wouldn’t be until July 23, 2019 that Jonelle’s remains would be found immediately turning her disappearance into a murder investigation, as it turned out Jonelle’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head.

Jonelle Matthews, age 12

On Monday November 2, 2020 a man by the name of Steven D. Pankey was arrested in Idaho, charged with the first degree murder and kidnapping of Jonell Matthews. According to a grand Jury indictment, Steven Pankey had armed himself with a handgun, and took Jonelle from her family home, during the time Jonelle would be kidnapped she would be killed by Pankey, the indictment would also state that he repeatedly asked for immunity in exchange for information.

Mugshot of Steven D. Pankey (Credit: Weld county)

According to the police, Steven Pankey had long been a person of interest in the disappearance of Jonell Matthews. Throughout the years Pankey would insert himself into the investigation, claiming to have information about the disappearance, which over time grew inconsistent and incriminating. Pankey’s wife at the time stated to The New York Times that she told investigators of her Ex-Husband’s erratic behavior in the days that followed Matthews disappearance.

Steve Pankey would state in an interview for The Time News that he’s being framed because of his sexuality, whether or not this statement is true remains to be proven. However he also states that he is eager to tell his side of things to clear his name, he even voluntarily sent his DNA to police, which he claim’s should disqualify him from being a suspect.

Documented in numerous interviews and podcast, Pankey claims that an unknown police officer had buried jonelles body and set him up to take the blame. According to his own accounts of the night Jonelle disappeared Steven and his family were preparing for a trip to his parents house in Big Bear Lake, California. In numerous interviews he states that an “unmarked Sheriffs car, and pickup truck” pulled into his driveways and flashed his lights at him, and his neighbors house before leaving. The following early morning Pankey, and his family leave for five days. Upon returning to Colorado he would overhear on the radio about a missing Greely girl, he claims this would be the first hearing of Jonelle and her family. Currently Pankey is being held with out bond, he hopes to asked to be released on bond after a hearing on December 4th.

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