Accused of abducting and killing his former neighbor, 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews in December of 1984, 69-year-old Steven Pankey, a former longshot gubernatorial candidate, faced two first-degree murder charges, two violent crime charges, and one second-degree kidnapping charge in a Colorado courtroom on Friday, October 30.
After he was arrested on murder charges on Oct. 12 at his Meridian, Idaho home without incident, Pankey was held without bond in Colorado’s Weld County Jail in connection with the cold case murder. Making his first court appearance in the state of Colorado, Pankey went before a Greeley judge after he transferred from an Idaho jail just two days before.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Oct. 13, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said, “[Jonelle] was driven…to her West Greeley home by a family friend, walked into her house and that was last time she was seen alive.”
After Matthews attended a holiday choir concert over three decades ago, Pankey, equipped with a firearm, took her from her home against her will sometime between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., and shot her in the process.
After becoming a suspect in the case, Pankey told investigators he was at home with his then-wife and son, preparing to leave for a road trip to California for Christmas. But it has not been until the last two years that Pankey has become the prime suspect in the cold case murder due to the incriminating statements he has made to investigators regarding what he knew about the case.
In mid-2019, nearly 35 years after she was last seen, Jonelle’s body was finally discovered at an oil and gas site close to where she lived in Weld County, Colorado.
As of November 2020, Pankey waits in a Colorado jail cell while his lawyer plans to ask the judge to consider releasing him on bond after next month’s hearing in order to weigh the evidence in the case.
If you’re arrested for any sort of felony or murder charge, make sure to call our office and ask for assistance from an Idaho criminal lawyer as soon as possible.