Steve Pankey Wiki – Steve Pankey Bio
A former Idaho government Republican candidate Steve Pankey is behind bars facing kidnapping and murder charges in connection with the death of a Colorado girl Jonelle Matthews, in a case that law enforcement has dedicated decades trying to solve.
12-year-old Jonelle Matthews disappeared on December 20, 1984, after attending a Christmas concert at Franklin Middle School in Greeley, Colorado. A friend and the friend’s father dropped Jonelle off at home after the concert and watched her until she walked inside.
Jonelle’s father and sister were at a basketball game when she arrived home, and her mother was out of town. When the family came home, Jonelle was missing. The shoes she wore at the concert were left behind.
At the time of Jonelle’s disappearance, Steve Pankey, who ran for Idaho governor for the Constitution Party in 2014, then ran again in the 2018 Republican primary, lived around two miles away from the girl.
In July 2019, 34 years after her disappearance, a construction crew found human remains at an oil construction site over 20 miles away from Jonelle’s home. Officials later confirmed the remains were positively Jonelle’s.
On Tuesday, according to NBC News, Weld District Attorney, Michael Rourke, announced that Pankey was indicted by a grand jury on October 9. Authorities arrested Pankey on Monday in Idaho and charged him with first-degree murder and related charges.
Greeley Police Chief Mark Jones added that Pankey’s arrest was “36 years in the making.”
“For over three decades, the disappearance of Jonelle Matthews has left our community with many unanswered questions and a void that has not been filled,” Jones said. “With the arrest of Steve Pankey for the murder of Jonelle Matthews, some of these questions are starting to be answered.”
Pankey, who was also a youth minister at Sunny View Church of the Nazarene in Greeley, previously claimed that he was on police radar because of previous run-ins with the law, but insisted he never harmed Jonelle.
In 1977, Pankey was accused of “date-rape” by a 23-year-old woman. He was prosecuted but the charges were later dropped. Pankey claimed the sex was consensual.
“Once you’re accused of something like date rape, you’re forever stigmatized,” Pankey told the outlet.
Pankey said on the night Jonelle disappeared, he was at home with his former wife. The couple reportedly left for an out of town function the following morning, and when he returned home on December 26, he learned that Jonelle had vanished.
His timeline, however, differed from what his former wife told investigators. Pankey’s ex-wife told authorities that they took an unexpected trip on December 22, 1984, which would have been two days after Jonelle disappeared, according to the indictment.
The former wife also indicated that Pankey searched for news on the radio about updates on the Jonelle, which was something uncharacteristic of him. She said when they returned home, Pankey forced her to read newspaper articles about Jonelle.
Pankey then allegedly “began digging in their yard” and disposed of a vehicle on their property that had “caught fire.”
In 2008, Pankey’s are was assassinated. The ex-wife told investigators that she heard him say something strange at her son’s funeral.
“I hope God has not allowed this to happen because of Jonelle Matthews,” Pankey said, according to the indictment against him.
Pankey claimed that he did not know who Jonelle was until six days after her disappearance, when he learned of her through reports and the community. However, Pankey attended the same church as the Matthews family.
“I never knew Jonelle, I never knew his family, I didn’t know he existed or he disappeared until Wednesday, December 26 ,” Pankey told the Idaho Statesman in 2019.
On August 15, 2019, FBI agents found Pankey at his home in Twin Falls, Idaho, and questioned him. Pankey claimed that authorities asked him to take a DNA test and he complied
Later, authorities obtained a search warrant for Pankey’s home. According to the warrant, investigators wrote that they had probable cause to believe that Pankey kidnapped and murdered Jonelle.
Detectives previously visited Pankey’s former home in Greeley and asked the current owner about the septic tank before excavating three areas in the home’s front yard.
Pankey said in 2019 that he thought authorities would leave him alone after the alleged DNA test. He decided to speak openly about the case after detectives continued to investigate it.
“I’m trying to be transparent,” Pankey said.
Greeley police said that while Pankey previously cooperated with law enforcement, when they arrived at his Twin Falls home, he was unwilling to cooperate. Greeley authorities also said law enforcement did not ask Pankey to submit a DNA sample.
Pankey refused to speak to detectives for unknown reasons. Greeley detectives worked with the Twin Falls Sheriff’s Office and obtained a warrant to search Pankey’s residence, which was executed on September 4 with the help of the Twin Falls Sheriff’s Office and the Twin Falls Police Department. “Greeley authorities said.
Earlier this week, Pankey’s attorney, Anthony J. Viorst, said he expects all charges to be dropped, NBC 9News reports.
“I anticipate that he will be cleared of all charges,” Viorst said.
Check back for updates.