Jonelle Matthews case: Steven Pankey, feeble political candidate, inserts himself into the case of a lacking lady and finally ends up a abolish suspect

 Jonelle Matthews disappeared from her household’s Greeley, Colorado, dwelling more than 35 years in the past. For some time, the image of the smiling 12-365 days-primitive develop into featured on milk cartons making an are trying to salvage lacking youngsters. However the case went frigid.

The finest physical proof stumbled on by police develop into a stranger’s shoeprints left in the snow – footprints someone tried to duvet up using a garden rake. The case drew national attention.

Jonelle Matthews
It develop into December 1984, merely days sooner than Christmas, when 12-365 days-primitive Jonelle Matthews disappeared from her household dwelling in Greeley, Colorado. 

Jim and Gloria Matthews

“The police … were working like hell to salvage this case cleared,” Greeley Mayor John Gates, a police officer at the time of Jonelle’s disappearance tells “48 Hours.”

In July 2019, a crew digging a pipeline stumbled on human remains, the sufferer of a gunshot. The coroner confirmed it develop into Jonelle.

“I did no longer need that to be Jonelle,” her mother Gloria Matthews tells “48 Hours” correspondent Richard Schlesinger. “I truly desired to no longer know.”

The discovery of Jonelle’s body develop into no longer the terminate of the fable. As an different, the investigation went into a surprising contemporary direction.

Extra than three decades after Jonelle’s disappearance, one-time Idaho gubernatorial candidate and feeble Greeley resident Steven Dana Pankey became a particular person of interest in the case.

Pankey has publicly acknowledged he by no methodology met Jonelle Matthews. But, his indictment capabilities to repeated statements implicating Pankey – made by Pankey. He allegedly volunteered, without being requested, what he claimed were crucial capabilities about when Matthews died. He moreover drew up a listing of persons of interest alongside with his name on it, per the indictment.

Pankey has been charged with Jonelle’s abolish and can stand trial in July. He pleaded no longer responsible. “He is a talkative man,” says Anthony Viorst, Pankey’s attorney. “However he’s no longer a murderer.”

As an different, says Viorst, Pankey craves attention. “Mr. Pankey desired to be a particular person of interest,” Viorst says. “Mr. Pankey can have faith laid low. … No person would have faith charged him. … Mr. Pankey loves the limelight.”


Jonelle Matthews’ pals Darla Jentzsch and Deanna Ross be aware growing up with Jonelle in the tiny Colorado city of Greeley.

Darla Jentzsch: All of us lived with our entrance doors open.

Deanna Ross: We rode our bikes loads around town. … We had sleepovers, birthday parties. We merely had a mammoth community of pals.

It’s the roughly town realtors are making an are trying to call “a giant station to rob youngsters.”

Darla Jentzsch: I’m so fortunate that we were neighbors.

However in December of 1984, merely five days sooner than Christmas, Greeley realized it might maybe well most likely maybe no longer screen from defective.

LOCAL NEWS REPORT: 12-365 days-primitive Jonelle Matthews disappeared from her Greeley dwelling. … It’s believed she’s the sufferer of a kidnapping.

Darla Jentzsch: It develop into this form of thriller, this complete element came about.

Honest like that, Darla lost her childhood friend.

Richard Schlesinger: Attain you be aware being anxious?

Darla Jentzsch: Oh, yeah. I be aware being anxious.

Deanna Ross: As a community, it rocked Greeley.

LOCAL NEWS REPORT: Jonelle Matthews will flip 13 in two weeks. No one is aware of where she’ll spend her birthday.

Richard Schlesinger: You might maybe well be the final folks to whom one thing like this might maybe well occur, I would have faith.

Jim Matthews: Mmm.

Gloria Matthews: Yeah.

Jim and Gloria Matthews had moved to Greeley merely six years earlier, to rob their younger daughters Jennifer and Jonelle.

Jennifer Mogensen: We were elated.

Matthews family
Jim and Gloria Matthews with daughters Jonelle, left, and Jennifer.

Jim and Gloria Matthews

Richard Schlesinger: Were you a shut household?

Jim Matthews: Positively. … Gloria develop into working at a restaurant. And I develop into an traditional main. … We were very enthusiastic by our church. And we merely had a in point of fact fleshy existence.

As a minimum they did except that night — December 20. That is when Jonelle went to say in a college choir concert.

Jim Matthews: She develop into occupied with any roughly performing element.

Afterwards she got a lope dwelling with Deanna Ross and Deanna’s father. That develop into about 8 p.m.

Deanna Ross: Jonelle wanted a lope dwelling … so she hopped in our truck and we took her dwelling. … My dad waited except he noticed her flick on the light. That develop into our signal that she made it inside and every thing’s truthful.

Richard Schlesinger: And also you drove off pondering what?

Deanna Ross: That I would glimpse her the next day, at college.

Jim Matthews: I came dwelling by myself.

Jim Matthews recalls arriving dwelling at about 9: 30 p.m. and stumbled on that his daughter wasn’t there.

Richard Schlesinger: Did it occur to you that maybe she … had bustle away?

Jim Matthews: No, because I know my daughter smartly enough that #1, or no longer it’s Christmas time. She loves gifts. She merely loves the total festivities of Christmas.

In the beginning he belief Jonelle develop into at a friend’s dwelling, nonetheless after calling around and ready about a half of hour to an hour, Jim says he called police.

Jim Matthews: They sent two or three detectives out and started looking out the dwelling for clues.

Mayor John Gates: I be aware that night prefer it develop into the day earlier than at the present time.

Greeley’s Mayor John Gates develop into 27 years primitive at the time and a police officer. He develop into called to the scene.

Mayor John Gates: My assignment that night … develop into … going across the neighborhood, knocking on doors … asking them in the occasion they had seen or heard one thing else suspicious that night.

No one had seen or heard one thing else — and the Matthews dwelling, which develop into now against the law scene, equipped few clues. There develop into a expose from Jonelle, nonetheless it develop into merely a cell phone message she had taken for her father at this time sooner than she vanished.

The finest physical proof were these footprints in the current snow. They were stumbled on merely outside the dwelling. And there develop into one thing unparalleled about them.

Jim Matthews: Whoever did it, tried to rake their footprints.

Richard Schlesinger: And he develop into using, what, a garden rake?

Jim Matthews: Yeah, accurate out of my garage.

Richard Schlesinger: Oh, to duvet them up.

Jim Matthews: Yeah, yeah.

Richard Schlesinger: Ordinary, huh?

Jim Matthews: [laughs] Yes.

There were no fingerprints and if there develop into DNA, law enforcement develop into aloof several years from being ready to analyze it. With nothing else to head on, investigators serious about Jim Matthews himself.

Richard Schlesinger: What develop into it like for you to be belief of a suspect in your daughter’s disappearance?

Jim Matthews: For the longest time I knew exactly what they were doing, and I respected it.

He even agreed to a lie detector take a look at, with an FBI agent.

Jim Matthews: The #1 interrogator west of the Mississippi.

Jim says the agent told him he failed.

Jim Matthews: I merely kept telling him, I acknowledged, “Hear, I’m telling you the fact. I’m telling you every thing I know.” Then they had one more one with the local police. That is after I started shedding it. I acknowledged listen, “I were very merely, I’ve been accessible to you any time you wanted, nonetheless I’m getting in uncomfortable health of this because I am innocent.”

Jim develop into in the break cleared, leaving no suspects or leads. A community of Greeley residents labored animated to help Jonelle’s fable alive. 

Jim Matthews: The Rescue Jonelle Committee … made all forms of things occur.

Jonelle Matthews milk carton art
Jonelle Matthews, accurate, develop into one amongst the principle lacking youngsters featured on milk cartons across the country. This will more than likely be a photo of the layout that develop into sent to a quantity of paper companies for the production of the milk cartons. 

Nationwide Child Security Council

They made headlines. Jonelle became one amongst the principle lacking youngsters whose photo appeared on milk cartons across America.

And even President Ronald Reagan got enthusiastic. He mentioned Jonelle in a speech about lacking youngsters.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN [March 7, 1985]: I realized about Jonelle Matthews of Greeley, Colorado. … five days sooner than Christmas, Jonelle disappeared from her dwelling.

However Jonelle’s household and pals might maybe well top likely entice that roughly attention for so long.  With no genuine proof of what came about to the 12-365 days-primitive, the case went frigid. However Jonelle develop into far from forgotten.

Gloria Matthews: Far and wide we went I develop into continually making an are trying to salvage her … I continually had hope that I would salvage her. … in my dreams she continually came dwelling. You realize, she continually came dwelling. 

However in fact, there develop into no signal of Jonelle.

LOCAL NEWS REPORT: A critical development to permit you to clutch about in a thriller that is more than three decades primitive.

And then on July 23, 2019, almost 35 years after Jonelle’s disappearance, police in the break had that breaking knowledge to fragment.

Jennifer Mogensen: Wow.

Deanna Ross: It develop into a entire shock.

Site where Jonelle's remains were located
On July 23, 2019, the remains of Jonelle Matthews were stumbled on by an excavation crew digging a pipeline in a rural station southeast of Greeley, Colorado.


A crew digging a pipeline in a far away stretch of land merely southeast of Greeley had stumbled on human remains with a gunshot distress to the head.

Mayor John Gates: They were confirmed by the coroner to be these of Jonelle Matthews.

It develop into agony for Jonelle’s mother Gloria, who might maybe well no longer hope her daughter would reach dwelling.

Gloria Matthews: We are going to remember that she develop into murdered [crying].

The quiz develop into, who killed Jonelle?

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: I heard that a lady develop into lacking from Greeley, Colorado.

Police might maybe well moreover wish been nearer to an acknowledge than they knew.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: I lived in Greeley, Colorado, from 1973 …

Steve Pankey develop into as soon as a candidate for governor of Idaho.

STEVE PANKEY [Idaho Statesman political ad]: I’m one amongst the folks that wishes to portray you.

He develop into a one who clear develop into occupied with the case. And made himself a particular person of interest.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: I contacted the FBI.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: I knew more than I desired to clutch, OK.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: I told the FBI I decide on to seek the advice of with you. It’s miles going to moreover or might maybe well moreover no longer have faith one thing to discontinue with the Jonelle Matthews case.


In September 2019, merely weeks after discovering the remains of 12-365 days-primitive Jonelle Matthews, the case that had been so frigid for so long swiftly heated up. Authorities searched a dwelling in Twin Falls, Idaho.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: They have faith fleshy SWAT tools on. They have faith rifles and they’re pointing them at me.

It belonged to Steven Pankey.

In a topic of days, the quest develop into all the procedure in which thru the ideas, nonetheless no longer because police were talking.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: Don’t spit in my face. Don’t accuse me …

Steven Pankey
A month after Jonelle’s disappearance, Steven Pankey all of a sudden inserted himself straight away into the middle of the case and volunteered some knowledge about Jonelle’s disappearance.


It develop into Steven Pankey who started talking — to merely about someone who would listen, including CBS affiliate KMVT.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: I’ve by no methodology met Jonelle Matthews … I’ve by no methodology met any one in her household …

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: Make certain that the viewers hear that … I voluntarily gave my DNA. I equipped to rob a polygraph.

Police obtained’t straight away verify any of that.

Kelly Werthmann is a reporter and anchor for Denver’s CBS station, KCNC. She moreover interviewed Pankey over FaceTime. 

STEVE PANKEY [to Werthmann]: If I gave my DNA, that is liable to be kinda like a knockout blow …

Kelly Werthmann: He truly desired to kind himself clear that he develop into framed.

KELLY WERTHMANN: Did you cancel Jonelle Matthews?

STEVE PANKEY: [Laughs] Fully no longer.

“48 Hours” tried to salvage our have faith interview with Pankey.

Richard Schlesinger: Would you let us seek the advice of with your client?

Anthony Viorst: No. I will no longer.

However by then, defense attorney Anthony Viorst had silenced his chatty contemporary client.

Anthony Viorst: Mr. Pankey likes to insist. He does. … to some degree, we’re going to merely decide on to face that.

Jonelle’s father Jim says the rapid-breaking knowledge about Pankey bowled over him.

Jim Matthews: We had by no methodology heard the name Steve Pankey. … We were totally clueless about this man.

However because it turns out, when Jonelle vanished in 1984, Pankey lived in Greeley — about two miles from the Matthew dwelling.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: On the time I develop into married. And … I had a 5-365 days-primitive son.

Greeley develop into worthy smaller then and Pankey develop into known around town.

Mayor John Gates: I had met him in about the mid-1970s. 

Richard Schlesinger: You be aware that?

Mayor John Gates: I discontinue. Yeah, he labored for my father. … So, I be aware meeting him. 

Greeley Mayor and feeble police officer John Gates knew Steven Pankey, and says he develop into no longer belief of a particular person of interest in the early days when Jonelle first disappeared.

Richard Schlesinger: Became Pankey wondered at all in the early days of this investigation?

Mayor John Gates: No longer to my knowledge.

Anthony Viorst says his client has an alibi.

Richard Schlesinger: The place develop into he the night Jonelle Matthews disappeared?

Anthony Viorst: He develop into at dwelling that night alongside with his accomplice and tiny one.

Pankey says the morning after Jonelle disappeared, he and his household left Greeley for five days.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: We went to California to be with my fogeys for Christmas.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: On the 26th we were driving wait on. And I heard on the auto radio that a lady develop into lacking from Greeley, Colorado. … pointless to philosophize, , you suspect that is abominable, nonetheless a entire bunch youngsters creep lacking, .

That is what he says he belief in the foundation, nonetheless a month after Jonelle’s disappearance, Pankey all of a sudden inserted himself straight away into the middle of this case and volunteered some knowledge about Jonelle’s disappearance.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]:  I contacted the Fortress Collins FBI workplace.  I acknowledged … “I decide on to seek the advice of with you. It’s miles going to moreover or might maybe well moreover no longer have faith one thing to discontinue with the Jonelle Matthews case.”

Steve Pankey claims that seven days after Jonelle disappeared, his accomplice’s father — a groundskeeper at a Greeley cemetery — shared some stressful knowledge.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]:  He told me that a cop had contacted him and acknowledged that he had a body he desired to be buried.

Pankey told KMVT that he shared the ideas with the FBI, because he feared that by some capacity maybe someone would be attempting to implicate him in Jonelle’s abolish.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]:  I decide on to at least be on document that I talked to you, so I luxuriate in no longer salvage perchance an obstruction of justice fee.

It’s miles a wild sounding fable and “48 Hours” can no longer verify it and even that he went to the FBI, nonetheless law enforcement records show that Pankey had other unrelated bustle-ins with Greeley police. They picture largely minor and non-violent allegations, like creating a nuisance and harassment. Actually, the day sooner than Jonelle disappeared, Pankey develop into arrested at a bank for harassment and criminal trespass.

Anthony Viorst: He argued with a bank teller and the police were called.

The police and court docket records of what came about with the fees are no longer public.

Anthony Viorst: The roughly element that is came about to Mr. Pankey over time. He is had periodic form of spats with folks because he’s an execrable, prickly man.

However police clearly have faith or no longer it’s more than that and appear to be looking out carefully at Pankey’s past — perchance including a case from 1977, when a 26-365 days-primitive Pankey develop into charged with sexually assaulting a lady he met in church.

In a four-hour episode of the “Unfound” podcast recorded in November 2019, Pankey claims he develop into relationship his accuser.

STEVE PANKEY [“Unfound” podcast]: In 1977, I develop into a formative years pastor at the … church.

STEVE PANKEY [“Unfound” podcast]: She develop into 23 years primitive.

Anthony Viorst: There develop into a sexual stumble upon. And she later acknowledged it develop into nonconsensual.

The girl in the break requested that the case be brushed off. However Pankey’s attorney says prosecutors will are trying to make utilize of it to kind his client seek for like a one who’s in a position to abolish.

Anthony Viorst: It has nothing to discontinue with this case. Nothing. … he’s an organization adherent to the Ten Commandments, which include thou shalt no longer cancel.

However Jim Matthews, who joined that similar church no longer long after Pankey left, says there might maybe be one more commandment Pankey seems to be having pain with: thou shalt no longer undergo fraudulent perceive.

Gloria and Jim Matthews
Gloria and Jim Matthews

CBS News

Jim Matthews: He develop into no longer a formative years employee at our church. He develop into the janitor.

Richard Schlesinger: Does it have faith a pertaining to this case?

Jim Matthews: I have faith it does.

Richard Schlesinger: Yeah.

Jim Matthews: Yes.

Richard Schlesinger: Attain you suspect that he develop into a threat to youngsters in that church? 

Gloria Matthews: We luxuriate in no longer know. 

However Anthony Viorst says he’s no longer anxious.

Anthony Viorst: There isn’t any longer any physical proof in anyway to join Mr. Pankey to this crime. Zero physical proof, OK?

John Gates is aware of the proof is circumstantial, nonetheless he believes it’s miles as stable because it’s miles distinctive.

Mayor John Gates: This is … some of essentially the most ordinary stuff I’ve ever heard, and I’ve been across the block.


About two years after 12-365 days-primitive Jonelle Matthews vanished from her dwelling in Greeley, Colorado, her household made the painful decision to pack up and move town.

Jim Matthews: It’s wanted to head on with existence. You might maybe well maybe well’t let this enjoy you.

Round that similar time, Steve Pankey, his younger son and his accomplice, who develop into pregnant with their 2nd son, moreover left Greeley.

STEVE PANKEY [“Unfound” podcast]: I desired to creep away …

In that podcast interview from November 2019, Pankey acknowledged they moved essentially due to Jonelle’s disappearance.

STEVE PANKEY [“Unfound” podcast]: There might maybe be someone available who’s performed this to youngsters. So, I did no longer feel overly accurate with my youngsters there. 

The Pankey household bounced around from remark to remark for some time. In 1989 they settled in Idaho, nonetheless Pankey admits he might maybe well no longer close indignant about Jonelle.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: It’d be in the wait on of my mind about this case … so I called … the fellow who lived spherical the corner … I merely requested, did they ever unravel that Jonelle Matthews element? And he acknowledged, no, to no longer his knowledge.

However Pankey might maybe well moreover wish been more than merely irregular. In 1999 he told the Idaho Supreme Courtroom, after a conviction for as soon as more inflicting a scene in a bank, that the conviction — which develop into brushed off years later — develop into partly an “are trying to power” him “to develop into an informant” in Jonelle’s disappearance. He moreover wrote that he feared he might maybe well well “salvage the death penalty for revealing the realm of” her body. 

Richard Schlesinger: Behold, that is outlandish. I point out, why would he philosophize that if he did no longer know where Jonelle Matthews develop into buried?

Anthony Viorst: Properly, right here’s what I will philosophize, Richard. I accept as true with you that or no longer it’s outlandish …  It merely makes zero sense. It’s merely — he’s a distinctive man. … and we post that … he by no methodology knew where the body develop into because he did no longer discontinue this.

However over time there develop into much more distinctive behavior, moments that, authorities think add up to circumstantial proof. 

Richard Schlesinger: What did you suspect of him? How did he appear to you?

Kevin Schneider: Very unparalleled.

Kevin Schneider says he met the Pankey household when they first moved to Idaho. His son develop into pals with Pankey’s son, Put.

Richard Schlesinger: Did your son ever glimpse any unparalleled things at the Pankey dwelling when he develop into over there?

Kevin Schneider: Yes, he did. One time, I explain their household dog develop into doing quite loads of barking, and it develop into traumatic Steven. And he took duct tape and wrapped it across the dog’s muzzle.

Richard Schlesinger: Ohh.

Pankey denies he ever did that, nonetheless Kevin says Pankey’s son Put develop into so dejected living at dwelling that the Schneiders took him in for about six years.

Richard Schlesinger: Why develop into he living with you?

Kevin Schneider: He couldn’t rob his dad.

In 2001 Pankey’s accomplice filed for divorce, and he moved to Shoshone, Idaho, where in 2004 without any abilities with law enforcement, as antagonistic to being arrested, he ran for sheriff.

He lost, nonetheless Pankey aloof desired to be sheriff someplace. In 2008, he belief of running in Twin Falls, where he went to church with Ryan Horsley, a political consultant.

Ryan Horsley: I develop into roughly at a loss for phrases because our local sheriff truly went to our church.

Richard Schlesinger: He desired to bustle towards … a fellow church member?

Ryan Horsley: Yeah. … it merely seemed truly outlandish that he did no longer have faith a complaint towards our local sheriff … it merely gave the look of he develop into merely running merely to bustle.

Pankey might maybe well moreover wish belief better about running in Twin Falls. In 2008, he ran for sheriff in Shoshone as soon as more. And, as soon as more, he did no longer reach shut to winning. However his political ambitions grew, and he became a serial candidate.

In all, Pankey attempted seven runs for workplace. There were two campaigns for governor, one for municipal council, one for lieutenant governor and three runs for county sheriff.

Steve Pankey For Governor YouTube Page

Ryan Horsley: He is ran for lieutenant governor as soon as. … he’s ran for governor two times. … And one amongst the times he ran for governor develop into an proper dumpster fire.

Richard Schlesinger: What made that marketing campaign a dumpster fire?

Ryan Horsley: He ran under the Constitutional Occasion. … at their remark convention, he claimed that they tried to discontinue an exorcism on him.

Richard Schlesinger: I’m sorry, did you philosophize an exorcism?

Ryan Horsley: Yes.

Richard Schlesinger: I know that you are a baby-kisser and never a priest, nonetheless did he seem in need of an exorcism? 

Ryan Horsley: It merely seemed distinctive. I develop into merely roughly glued to the headlines this complete time on merely his reviews — that they merely did no longer kind sense.

For the document, the Constitution Occasion denies Pankey or someone else develop into exorcised — at least by them. In 2018, Pankey made a 2nd are trying at turning into governor and to no one’s surprise, he lost. Ryan Horsley says that is when Pankey started collecting guns.

Ryan Horsley: … abruptly he started, um, procuring firearms … and later stumbled on out that Greeley Police Department had been contacting him in the case of this abolish investigation.

And six weeks after Jonelle’s remains were stumbled on, authorities were at Pankey’s entrance door with a search warrant.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: They searched this station, they took my pc pc …

Pankey had an racy next creep: he ran for sheriff again.

Ryan Horsley: I have faith that develop into his final-ditch effort, in actuality.

Richard Schlesinger: To discontinue what?

Ryan Horsley: To shut any investigation, to close him getting arrested.

It did no longer work.

DA MICHAEL ROURKE [to reporters]: It’s miles with giant honor at the present time that we allege that the substantial jury indicted a particular person named Steven Dana Pankey for the kidnapping and abolish of Jonelle Matthews.

On October 12, 2020, police arrested Steven Pankey for kidnapping and first-stage abolish.

CHIEF MARK JONES [to reporters]: To the Matthews household, I pray that this knowledge brings you some closure and hope as we proceed to pursue justice for Jonelle and your household.

Steve Pankey booking photo
On October 12, 2020, police arrested Steve Pankey for kidnapping and first-stage abolish in Jonelle’s case. 

Weld County Courthouse

However defense attorney Anthony Viorst says he’s no longer anxious, because he says the case towards his client is merely a dilapidated and circumstantial series of distinctive behaviors.

Anthony Viorst: I luxuriate in no longer are making an are trying to explain my defense, , on national tv … nonetheless I luxuriate in no longer have faith or no longer it might maybe well most likely maybe be any surprise after I permit you to clutch that they’ve got no motive in anyway for this crime … there might maybe be totally no indication Mr. Pankey knew this lady … knew where she lived … had any decide on to cancel her.

However the district attorney’s workplace is willing for trial.

DA MICHAEL ROURKE [to reporters]: The indictment that I have faith referred to develop into unsealed merely a rapid time in the past.

It’s an eight-page doc that lays out what the prosecutors think is their top likely case towards Steven Pankey.


In August 2019, after almost 35 years of agonizing over the mysterious disappearance of their daughter Jonelle, Gloria and Jim Matthews were in the break ready to lay her to rest.

Jonelle Matthews burial
Jonelle Matthews develop into laid to rest almost 35 years after her disappearance.

Jim and Gloria Matthews

Jim Matthews: We knew that we desired to present her a dignified burial and, which she so richly deserved. … While you birth pouring dirt into the grave and then look the casket creep down. …  I’m no longer an proper emotional particular person. However boy, merely the floodgates unfolded for both of us.

Quite more than a 365 days later, a substantial jury handed down the indictment towards Steven Dana Pankey, charging that he “took Jonelle Matthews from her household dwelling … without her consent and towards her will …” and “… shot Jonelle Matthews right thru the direction of the kidnapping.”

Anthony Viorst | Pankey’s defense attorney: No person ever reported a shot fired in the neighborhood.

Richard Schlesinger: They philosophize that he owned a gun in 1984, that he lived within just a few miles of Jonelle Matthews, and that he lived within 10 miles of where her body develop into stumbled on. What discontinue you form of these items?

Anthony Viorst: Properly, you likely merely described … 20 or 30,000 men in — in the Greeley metropolitan station. …  And the station where the body develop into stumbled on develop into … in a in point of fact far away station that he had no connection to.

Steve Pankey indictment
A 365 days after authorities searched Steve Pankey’s dwelling, a substantial jury handed down an eight-page indictment towards Pankey on October 9, 2020. It charged that “he took Jonelle Matthews from her household dwelling …” and “shot Jonelle Matthews right thru the direction of the kidnapping.”

Weld County Courthouse

The indictment cites several examples where Pankey “Deliberately inserted himself in the investigation.” Alongside with a doc filed as part of his have faith divorce in 2003, where, for causes which might maybe well well be clear top likely to Pankey, he wrote that Jonelle’s household wishes to be suggested she “died sooner than crossing 10th st. [sic]” That is shut to where her choir concert develop into held the night she vanished.

Anthony Viorst: That is merely, , pulled out of thin air. I point out, or no longer it’s no longer merely. It’s no longer essentially based totally on one thing else.

Richard Schlesinger: He is merely making these items up to have faith an interest by the case.

Anthony Viorst: Yeah.

He moreover suggested “to no longer present the household hope.”

Richard Schlesinger: Why would he interject himself into the case?

Anthony Viorst: I’m in a position to no longer acknowledge that because I’m in a position to no longer salvage into his head, nonetheless I discontinue have faith, again, or no longer it’s a aggregate of form of obsessive-compulsive behavior and, , maybe even mental sickness.

Richard Schlesinger: Ought to you are accurate, they’ve fallen for the claims of a mentally in uncomfortable health particular person. These are trained law enforcement officials. I point out, why would they discontinue that?

Anthony Viorst: I’m no longer clear that they, they know or think that he’s mentally in uncomfortable health. … I luxuriate in no longer have faith they’ve quite loads of practising in mental sickness.

Richard Schlesinger: Is no longer always the much less complicated explanation perchance that he’s explaining what he did and why he did it?

Anthony Viorst: I explain that is liable to be the prosecution’s location. … nonetheless nothing he’s ever acknowledged truly implicates him in the abolish.

Greeley’s Mayor John Gates, strongly disagrees.

Mayor John Gates: The most stable proof to me is the methodology Mr. Pankey conducted himself from the time this came about up except his indictment.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: I’ve by no methodology acknowledged I did it….

Mayor John Gates: The bucket of surprising methodology loads to me.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: I knew more than I desired to clutch, OK?

Mayor John Gates: It builds a in point of fact, truly stable circumstantial case, in my mind.

Richard Schlesinger: Attain into that bucket of surprising, would you, Mr. Mayor, and pull out for me essentially the most ordinary element.

Mayor John Gates: Properly, he knew her.

Pankey has continually insisted that he did no longer know Jonelle.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: I’ve by no methodology met Jonelle Matthews. Never met her, by no methodology talked to her.

However the indictment means that he might maybe well moreover wish, because he “demonstrated intimate familiarity with the neighborhood where Jonelle Matthews lived.” And it says he “watched college youngsters plod dwelling” from Jonelle’s middle college. Then, there might maybe be that Pankey household outing to California accurate after Jonelle disappeared.

Mayor John Gates: I read that his accomplice stumbled on that to be ordinary.

Consistent with the indictment, his ex-accomplice had loads to say about that.

Mayor John Gates: She acknowledged that it develop into unexpected, very unexpected and unplanned.

Richard Schlesinger: Became that outing planned?

Anthony Viorst: Yes.

Richard Schlesinger: His ex-accomplice says it develop into unplanned. It came up out of nowhere and they merely went.

Anthony Viorst: I’m aware of that.

Richard Schlesinger: How discontinue you set out who to think there?

Anthony Viorst: Properly, I suspect my client.

Consistent with the indictment, Pankey’s ex-accomplice moreover told authorities that, on the methodology wait on to Greeley, he “uncharacteristically listened to the radio making an are trying to salvage knowledge accounts of Jonelle’s disappearance.” And the indictment, while stingy on crucial capabilities, says she described Pankey digging of their yard when they got wait on dwelling. 

Richard Schlesinger: What’s that all about, discontinue you suspect?

Anthony Viorst: I luxuriate in no longer know. Here’s what I will philosophize about that, all accurate? And again, I’m providing you with methodology too worthy knowledge because … the prosecution’s going to clutch my every creep when this case goes to trial, nonetheless … I’m pretty sure that the Greeley Police Department went wait on to that yard and looked in it and they did no longer salvage one thing else.

Police are no longer talking about the case. However Kevin Schneider, who knew Pankey in Idaho, says he moreover knew Pankey’s ex-accomplice dazzling worthy, and believes her account of what came about.

Kevin Schneider: I discontinue. I discontinue think it 100%. And she might maybe well be the smartly-known particular person perceive for the prosecution, I would have faith.  

Richard Schlesinger: And why is that?

Kevin Schneider: Because she lived with him regularly.

Anthony Viorst: I’m in a position to no longer permit you to clutch whether or no longer she’s being untruthful or merely frightful. … I luxuriate in no longer decide on to impugn her personality at this deadline. However … we and not using a doubt have faith she’s at the least frightful.

Richard Schlesinger: The prosecution might maybe well argue that he develop into getting out of town to help far off from being wondered. Surprising outing to California. Gettin’ out of dodge.

Anthony Viorst: The prosecution might maybe well argue that, Richard, I agree. … he develop into by no methodology a suspect, except he form of interjected himself into this case.

And, for no topic reason, the maybe overly verbose Pankey kept drawing attention to himself even as the police were closing in. 

KELLY WERTHMANN [KMVT report]: Pankey says he went to journalists in Idaho because he desired to be transparent.

At one level in 2019, about a month after police searched his dwelling, he sent local media shops a press liberate that included a listing of folks police might maybe well well relief in mind “persons of interest.” And he place his have faith name on it, while aloof insisting he’s innocent.

Anthony Viorst: Mr. Pankey desired to be a particular person of interest. I point out, Mr. Pankey can have faith laid low. No person would have faith ever talked to him. No person would have faith ever charged him.

Pankey’s list of persons of interest had one more sharp name on it.

Mayor John Gates: He develop into a chunk fixated on implicating me as smartly.

Greeley’s mayor, John Gates, who says Pankey accused him of attempting to position him up and never merely for Jonelle Matthews’ abolish.

Mayor John Gates: There develop into a extra level out that in 1993 I had convinced the Sun Valley, Idaho, Police Department that Pankey develop into the Golden Sing Killer.

Richard Schlesinger: In California?

Mayor John Gates: Yes.

Richard Schlesinger: And had you?

Mayor John Gates: No.

Anthony Viorst says that is merely more proof that his client is merely alive to about merely crime … although no longer in a wholesome methodology.

Anthony Viorst: Mr. Pankey loves the limelight. He merely does, for no topic reason.

Richard Schlesinger: It’s miles a hell of a technique to salvage the limelight, is no longer it?

Anthony Viorst: It’s no longer a mighty methodology. … I would no longer counsel it to someone. … It develop into all smartly and splendid, I explain, except he truly got charged.

However there might maybe be one portion of proof mentioned in the indictment that might maybe well existing in particular animated for Viorst and his loquacious client. It’s these footprints in the snow stumbled on outside Jonelle’s dwelling the night she vanished.

Richard Schlesinger: Why is it so suspicious that he knew about a rake?


When Jonelle Matthews first disappeared, investigators had top likely one portion of physical proof — these footprints in the snow outside the Matthews dwelling that someone, perchance her abductor, had tried to camouflage by using a garden rake.

Jim Matthews: He would rake the — where he had been, and then he might maybe well salvage to the landing where … he might maybe well plod up to the steps to the kitchen.

Jonelle Matthews home
Investigators searched the Matthews dwelling, nonetheless the top likely physical proof they stumbled on were shoeprints in the snow that someone had tried to establish away with with a garden rake.  Best the Matthews household, investigators and presumably the killer knew about these raked over footprints.


Best the Matthews household, investigators and presumably the killer knew about these raked over footprints. And that is what made a 2019 dialog that investigators had with Steven Pankey so sharp. 

Richard Schlesinger: He mentioned rake.

Mayor John Gates: He did.

Richard Schlesinger: Is there any methodology he would have faith known about that?

Mayor John Gates: To my knowledge, no.

However the indictment says Pankey knew of and discussed an primary portion of proof from the Matthews dwelling withheld from the final public by law enforcement: specifically, a rake develop into former to obliterate shoe impressions in the snow.

Mayor John Gates: I explain the merely of the fable is that if you’re enthusiastic by criminal assignment and also you insist about it, in the break you are gonna philosophize one thing that crosses that line into an station that you might maybe well moreover aloof no longer know if you were not enthusiastic.

Anthony Viorst: That is arguably the one portion of proof that arguably ties Mr. Pankey to the crime.

Richard Schlesinger: Arguably? They by no methodology launched the ideas about the rake.

Anthony Viorst: So, right here’s what I will philosophize. … I’m in a position to no longer permit you to clutch every thing that I know … Because I have faith attorney-client privilege and I’m aloof in the midst of of preparing the defense of my client, all accurate? However suffice it to say that we have faith reason to think that that knowledge develop into divulged to him, um, to Mr. Pankey.

Richard Schlesinger: By whom?

Anthony Viorst: But again, that is — at this level, I’m no longer at liberty to say. … Properly, I will permit you to clutch what — strike that.

Anthony Viorst: I will philosophize. By law enforcement. It’s our location that it develop into divulged by law enforcement. All accurate?

Richard Schlesinger: By the police.

Anthony Viorst: Yeah, they told him. All accurate?

Richard Schlesinger: Attain a reputation, a particular officer? 

Anthony Viorst: I luxuriate in no longer.

Richard Schlesinger: However you label it develop into the police?

Anthony Viorst: That is my concept.

The police refused to say one thing else about what Viorst charges.

However if worthy of what Pankey has acknowledged over time has complicated his defense, just a few things he’s performed might maybe well smartly help. Keep in mind, he says he willingly gave authorities his DNA. 

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: I gave it up entrance, I equipped to rob a polygraph take a look at, I equipped to rob a suppose stress take a look at. I suggested that they impanel a substantial jury and have faith me testify under oath.

Police are no longer announcing worthy about what Pankey equipped them, nonetheless District Criminal professional Michael Rourke did philosophize one thing about the DNA that would moreover wait on the defense.

DA Michael Rourke [to reporters]:  What I’m in a position to philosophize is there isn’t this form of thing as a definitive link DNA-wise between the defendant and Jonelle Matthews’ remains.

Pankey is in penal advanced now, unable to post a $5 million bond. On February 3, 2021, he entered his plea to the total charges.

Steve Pankey in court
Steve Pankey, accurate, in court docket alongside with his defense attorney Anthony Viorst, is charged with the abolish of Jonelle Matthews and can stand trial in July. He pleaded no longer responsible.


ANTHONY VIORST [in court]: Your honor at the present on behalf of Mr. Pankey, we plead no longer responsible.

And now each aspect are preparing for trial.

Richard Schlesinger: What’s your influence of the case towards your client?

Anthony Viorst: You realize, they truly luxuriate in no longer have faith one. … the top likely reason, truly, that my client develop into charged is because he voluntarily interjected himself into the investigation.

Richard Schlesinger: Attain you suspect he desired to salvage charged?

Anthony Viorst: Properly … I have faith to some degree, Mr. Pankey likes the limelight so worthy that he’s taking part in being charged. Yeah.

It can maybe be up to the jurors to scheme shut if Pankey is a murderer or made all of it up. Mayor Gates hopes the prosecutors prevail.

Mayor John Gates: I have faith they did a stellar job, and I commend our district attorney for prosecuting the case. However, , time will suppose. It—or no longer it’s over yet.

Jonelle Matthews
Jonelle Matthews

Jim and Gloria Matthews

Keep in mind that, it obtained’t ever be over for Jonelle’s household. However a trial might maybe well well give them solutions for which they’ve spent decades ready — crucial capabilities about what came about on the worst night of their lives.

Jim Matthews: If he’s stumbled on responsible, optimistically we can know the suppose of what came about that night and then we can place as worthy closure on this case as is likely on this earth.

Richard Schlesinger: What discontinue you suspect came about to your sister?

Jennifer Mogensen: I luxuriate in no longer know specifics. … nonetheless he took her, and he shot her. And then he buried her and went on alongside with his existence. And she might maybe well no longer creep on with hers.

Steven Pankey’s trial is scheduled to birth out on July 12, 2021.

Produced by Judy Rybak. Claire St. Amant and Ryan N. Smith are the development producers. Jordan Kinsey is the realm producer. Doreen Schechter is the producer-editor. Ken Blum is the editor. Patti Aronofsky is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the govt.fable editor. Judy Tygard is the govt.producer.  

© 2021 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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