Idaho man faces charges in decades-old Colorado cold case
Greeley Police Department announce an update in the 1984 Jonelle Matthews cold case
(KMVT/KSVT) A major announcement was made in Colorado on Tuesday afternoon, regarding a decades-old cold case involving Jonelle Mathews of Greely, Colorado, and a man with ties to Twin Falls.
Steve Pankey’s name has been in the news a lot in Idaho over the years. He ran for the Lincoln County sheriff in 2008, and for governor of Idaho in 2014 and 2018. He even made a run for Twin Falls County Sheriff’s seat earlier this year. Something he did an interview with KMVT about in early 2020.
However, on Tuesday he was in the news for something completely different. The Weld District attorney and members of the Greeley Police Department announced that Pankey has been indicted by a grand jury for the 1984 cold case of Jonelle Matthews. He is facing five criminal counts which include murder in the first-degree after deliberation, murder in the first-degree felony, one count of second-degree kidnapping, and two crimes of violence counts.
Michael Rourke, who is the Weld District attorney, said law enforcement in Idaho arrested Pankey on Monday at his house in Meridian, and he is currently being held without bond in Ada County jail.
“Where he will await extradition back to the state of Colorado to face these charges,” Rourke said,
Since becoming a person of interest in the Matthews case in 2018, Pankey has long confessed his innocence to local media. He has said everything from, “I didn’t even know Jonelle Matthews existed” until she disappeared, to laughing off the idea that he of possibly killed her.
Rourke said during the announcement a big break in the case was oil field workers finding Jonelle’s remains in July of 2019. The district attorney said upon discovery she was wearing the same clothes that she was wearing in 1984. He said after an autopsy was performed the cause of death was determined to be a single gunshot wound to her forehead.
Jonelle was last seen on December 20, 1984, after performing in a Christmas concert at Intrawest Bank, and Rourke said she was driven home to her West Greely home by a family friend later that night. After she was dropped off, she walked into her house and that was the last time she was seen alive.
Rourke said there was a little bit of overlap between the family and the defendant. According to court documents they both attended Sunny View Church of the Nazarene in 1978. But the alarming thing to investigators is that there are a number of statements Pankey has made over the course of time to courts, law enforcement, and in unsolicited letters, in which he indicates some very intimate knowledge about the commission of the crime.
“Information that the general public and the media was not privy to, indicating that he had an involvement in this offense,” Rourke said.
The district attorney said President Ronald Regan mentioned Jonelle by name in a speech in 1985, and her picture and identifying information was one of the first to be put on the milk carton to be put out in all of the schools nationwide by the National Child Safety Council.
However, with all the mounting evidence against Pankey Rourke is reminding people that he is innocent until proven guilty, and the charges against are proved beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Near the end of the announcement, Rourke said at this time there is “definitive link DNA wise” between Jonelle Matthews and Pankey.
This is a developing story and KMVT will be updating this article.
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