Who killed Jonelle Matthews? What her suspected killer Steve Pankey said on the witness stand

Who killed Jonelle Matthews? What her suspected killer Steve Pankey mentioned on the witness stand

It was December 1984 when 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews vanished from her household’s Greeley, Colorado dwelling. The one proof left behind had been shoeprints within the snow – shoeprints somebody tried to erase with a backyard rake. The case drew nationwide consideration. 

Jonelle Matthews
It was December 1984, simply days earlier than Christmas, when 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews disappeared from her household dwelling in Greeley, Colorado. 

Jim and Gloria Matthews

Greater than three many years later, in 2019, Jonelle’s physique was discovered by a crew digging a pipeline. In 2020, Steven Pankey, who says he by no means met Jonelle, was charged with homicide after repeatedly making public statements that inserted him into the case, together with drawing up an inventory of individuals of curiosity along with his personal title on it. Pankey went on trial in October 2021.

Anthony Viorst, Pankey’s former legal professional, says Pankey craves consideration however just isn’t a assassin.

“[T]here is no indication that he dedicated this homicide, no indication that he had something to do with burying the physique. Mr. Pankey wished to be an individual of curiosity. … Mr. Pankey loves the limelight … all the statements that he has made about his culpability have been, ‘I did not do it,'” Viorst instructed “48 hours” correspondent Richard Schlesinger as he prepped for the trial.

At trial, Viorst instructed the jury that Pankey was a true-crime junkie. And Pankey himself took the stand.

“It was simply me making an attempt to be a giant man, be within the case, OK? I had no information,” Pankey mentioned.

“It started as a sequence of lies, and it obtained larger and greater over time,” Pankey instructed the jury. “One lie results in one other.”

If Pankey did not kill Jonelle Matthews, then who did?


It had been almost 4 many years since Jonelle Matthews was kidnapped from her dwelling and murdered. Now, her mother and father had been lastly in a courtroom determined for solutions.

Jim Matthews
Jim Matthews takes the stand within the trial of the person accused of the kidnapping and homicide of his 12-year-old daughter Jonelle.

The Denver Submit

JIM MATTHEWS | Jonelle’s father [on the witness stand]: She may have been lured out of the home and gullible as a result of she was 12 years previous.

Kelly Werthmann: This was a second that this neighborhood had been ready for a very long time.

Kelly Werthmann is a reporter and anchor for Denver’s CBS station, KCNC.

Kelly Werthmann: Folks had been prepared. However … it was intense.

It is a case that has haunted the small Colorado metropolis of Greeley.

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

Deanna Ross: We rode our bikes quite a bit round city.

Jonelle Matthews’ pals Darla Jentzsch and Deanna Ross keep in mind rising up with Jonelle.

Deanna Ross: We had sleepovers, birthday events. We simply had a giant group of pals.

It is the type of city realtors wish to name “an ideal place to lift children.”

Darla Jentzsch: I am so lucky that we had been neighbors.

However simply 5 days earlier than Christmas, Greeley realized it couldn’t conceal from evil.

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

Darla Jentzsch: It was such a thriller, this complete factor occurred.

Identical to that, Darla misplaced her childhood pal.

Richard Schlesinger: Do you keep in mind being afraid?

Darla Jentzsch: Oh, yeah. I keep in mind being afraid.

Deanna Ross: As a neighborhood, it rocked Greeley.

LOCAL NEWS REPORT: Jonelle Matthews will flip 13 in two weeks. Nobody is aware of the place she’ll spend her birthday.

Richard Schlesinger: You would be the final individuals to whom one thing like this may occur, I might suppose.

Jim Matthews: Mmm.

Gloria Matthews: Yeah.

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

Jennifer Mogensen: We had been completely satisfied.

Matthews family
As investigators struggled to search out solutions, they centered initially on Jonelle’s father Jim Matthews. Jim Matthews was ultimately cleared.

Jim and Gloria Matthews

Richard Schlesinger: Have been you an in depth household?

Jim Matthews: Undoubtedly. … Gloria was working at a restaurant. And I used to be an elementary principal. … We had been very concerned in our church. And we simply had a really full life.

A minimum of they did till that night time — December 20. That is when Jonelle went to sing in a faculty choir live performance.

Jim Matthews: She was focused on any type of performing factor.

Afterwards she obtained a journey dwelling with Deanna Ross and Deanna’s father. That was about 8 p.m.

Deanna Ross: Jonelle wanted a journey dwelling … so she hopped in our truck and we took her dwelling. … My dad waited till he noticed her flick on the sunshine. That was our signal that she made it inside and all the things’s wonderful.

Richard Schlesinger: And also you drove off pondering what?

Deanna Ross: That I would see her the following day, in school.

Jim Matthews: I got here dwelling on my own.

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

Richard Schlesinger: Did it happen to you that possibly she … had run away?

Jim Matthews: No, as a result of I do know my daughter properly sufficient that primary, it is Christmas time. She loves presents. She simply loves the entire festivities of Christmas.

At first, he thought Jonelle was at a pal’s home, however after calling round and ready a couple of half hour to an hour, Jim says he known as police.

Jim Matthews: They despatched two or three detectives out and began looking the home for clues.

Mayor John Gates: I do not forget that night time prefer it was yesterday.

Greeley’s Mayor John Gates was 27 years previous on the time, and a police officer. He was known as to the scene.

Mayor John Gates: My task that night time … was … going across the neighborhood, knocking on doorways … asking them if that they had seen or heard something suspicious that night.

Nobody had seen or heard something, and the Matthews dwelling, which was now a criminal offense scene, provided few clues.

The one bodily proof had been these footprints within the recent snow. They had been discovered simply outdoors the home. And there was one thing odd about them.

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

Richard Schlesinger: And he was utilizing, what, a backyard rake?

Jim Matthews: Yeah, proper out of my storage.

Richard Schlesinger: Oh, to cowl them up.

Jim Matthews: Yeah, yeah.

Richard Schlesinger: Peculiar, huh?

Jim Matthews: [laughs] Sure.

There have been no fingerprints and if there was DNA, regulation enforcement was nonetheless a number of years from with the ability to analyze it. With nothing else to go on, investigators centered on Jim Matthews himself.

Richard Schlesinger: What was it like so that you can be thought of a suspect in your daughter’s disappearance?

Jim Matthews: For the longest time I knew precisely what they had been doing, and I revered it.

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

Jim Matthews: The primary interrogator west of the Mississippi.

Jim says the agent instructed him he failed.

Jim Matthews: I simply saved telling him, I mentioned, “Hear, I am telling you the reality. I am telling you all the things I do know.” Then that they had one other one with the native police. That is after I began shedding it. I mentioned hear, “I’ve been very trustworthy, I have been accessible to you any time you wished, however I am getting sick of this as a result of I’m harmless.”

Jim was ultimately cleared, leaving no suspects or leads. A gaggle of Greeley residents labored laborious to maintain Jonelle’s story alive. 

Jim Matthews: The Rescue Jonelle Committee … made all types of issues occur.

They made headlines. Jonelle grew to become one of many first lacking youngsters whose picture appeared on milk cartons throughout America.

And even President Ronald Reagan obtained concerned. He talked about Jonelle in a speech about lacking youngsters.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN [March 7, 1985]: I realized about Jonelle Matthews of Greeley, Colorado. … 5 days earlier than Christmas, Jonelle disappeared from her dwelling.

However Jonelle’s household and pals may solely appeal to that type of consideration for thus lengthy.  With no actual proof of what occurred to the 12-year-old, the case went chilly. However Jonelle was removed from forgotten.

Gloria Matthews: In all places we went I used to be at all times searching for her … I at all times had hope that I might discover her. … in my desires she at all times got here dwelling. You recognize, she at all times got here dwelling. 

However in actuality, there was no signal of Jonelle.

LOCAL NEWS REPORT: A significant growth to inform you about in a thriller that’s greater than three many years previous.

After which on July 23, 2019, almost 35 years after Jonelle’s disappearance, police lastly had that breaking information to share.

Jennifer Mogensen: Wow.

Deanna Ross: It was a whole shock.

On July 23, 2019, the stays of Jonelle Matthews had been found by an excavation crew digging a pipeline in a rural space southeast of Greeley, Colorado.


A crew digging a pipeline in a distant stretch of land simply southeast of Greeley had found human stays with a gunshot wound to the pinnacle.

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

It was agony for Jonelle’s mom Gloria, who may not hope her daughter would come dwelling.

Gloria Matthews: We’re going to know that she was murdered [crying].

The query was, who killed Jonelle?

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: I heard {that a} woman was lacking from Greeley, Colorado.

Police might need been nearer to a solution than they knew.

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

Steve Pankey was as soon as a candidate for governor of Idaho.

STEVE PANKEY [Idaho Statesman political ad]: I am one of many individuals who needs to signify you.

He was an individual who positive was within the case.

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

And made himself an individual of curiosity.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: I knew greater than I wished to know, OK.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: I instructed the FBI I wish to discuss to you. It might or might not have one thing to do with the Jonelle Matthews case.


In September 2019, simply weeks after discovering the stays of 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews, the case that had been so chilly for thus lengthy rapidly heated up. Authorities searched a house in Twin Falls, Idaho.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: They have full SWAT gear on. They have rifles and so they’re pointing them at me.

It belonged to Steven Pankey.

In a matter of days, the search was all around the information, however not as a result of police had been speaking.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: Do not spit in my face. Do not accuse me …

Steven Pankey
Regardless of many years of ongoing police work and public curiosity, Jonelle’s case remained chilly. Till a person dwelling in Twin Falls Idaho, Steven Pankey, grew to become an individual curiosity.


It was Steven Pankey who began speaking — to simply about anybody who would hear, together with CBS affiliate KMVT.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: I’ve by no means met Jonelle Matthews … I’ve by no means met anyone in her household …

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: Be sure the viewers hear that … I voluntarily gave my DNA. I provided to take a polygraph.

Police will not instantly affirm any of that.

Kelly Werthmann interviewed Pankey for CBSDenver over FaceTime. 

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

Kelly Werthmann: He actually wished to make himself clear that he was framed.

KELLY WERTHMANN: Did you kill Jonelle Matthews?

STEVE PANKEY: [Laughs] Completely not.

“48 Hours” tried to get our personal interview with Pankey.

Richard Schlesinger: Would you allow us to discuss to your shopper?

Anthony Viorst: No. I can’t.

However by then, protection legal professional Anthony Viorst had silenced his chatty new shopper.

Anthony Viorst: Mr. Pankey likes to speak. He does. … to some extent, we’ll simply must face that.

Jonelle’s father Jim says the fast-breaking information about Pankey shocked him.

Jim Matthews: We had by no means heard the title Steve Pankey. … We had been completely clueless about this man.

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

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: On the time I used to be married. And … I had a 5-year-old son.

Greeley was a lot smaller then and Pankey was identified round city.

Mayor John Gates: I had met him in concerning the mid-Seventies. 

Richard Schlesinger: You do not forget that?

Mayor John Gates: I do. Yeah, he labored for my father. … sure, I keep in mind assembly him. 

Greeley Mayor and former police officer John Gates knew Steven Pankey, and says he was not thought of an individual of curiosity within the early days when Jonelle first disappeared.

Richard Schlesinger: Was Pankey questioned in any respect within the early days of this investigation?

Mayor John Gates: To not my information.

Anthony Viorst says his shopper has an alibi.

Richard Schlesinger: The place was he the night time Jonelle Matthews disappeared?

Anthony Viorst: He was at dwelling that night time along with his spouse and baby.

Pankey says the morning after Jonelle disappeared, he and his household left Greeley for 5 days.

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

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: On the twenty sixth we had been driving again. And I heard on the automotive radio {that a} woman was lacking from Greeley, Colorado. … in fact, , you suppose that is horrible, however a number of children go lacking, .

That is what he says he thought at first, however a month after Jonelle’s disappearance, Pankey out of the blue inserted himself instantly into the center of this case and volunteered some details about Jonelle’s disappearance.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]:  I contacted the Fort Collins FBI workplace.  … I mentioned … “I wish to discuss to you. It might or might not have one thing to do with the Jonelle Matthews case.”

Steve Pankey claims that seven days after Jonelle disappeared, his father-in-law — a groundskeeper at a Greeley cemetery — shared some disturbing data.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]:  He instructed me {that a} cop had contacted him and mentioned that he had a physique he wished to be buried.

Pankey instructed KMVT that he shared the knowledge with the FBI, as a result of he feared that one way or the other somebody may be making an attempt to implicate him in Jonelle’s homicide.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]:  I wish to at the least be on report that I talked to you, so I do not get probably an obstruction of justice cost.

It is a wild sounding story and “48 Hours” cannot affirm it and even that he went to the FBI. Regulation enforcement information present that Pankey had different unrelated run-ins with Greeley police. They describe principally minor and non-violent allegations, like making a nuisance and harassment. Actually, the day earlier than Jonelle disappeared, Pankey was arrested at a financial institution for harassment and legal trespass.

Anthony Viorst: He argued with a financial institution teller and the police had been known as.

The police and courtroom information of what occurred with the costs are not obtainable.

Anthony Viorst: That is the type of factor that is occurred to Mr. Pankey over time. He is had periodic form of spats with individuals as a result of he’s an irascible, prickly man.

However police clearly suppose it is greater than that and appear to be wanting carefully at Pankey’s previous — probably together with a case from 1977, when a 26-year-old Pankey was 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 was relationship his accuser.

STEVE PANKEY [“Unfound” podcast]: In 1977, I used to be a youth pastor on the … church.

STEVE PANKEY [“Unfound” podcast]: She was 23 years previous.

Anthony Viorst: There was a sexual encounter. And she or he later mentioned it was nonconsensual.

The girl ultimately requested that the case be dismissed.

Anthony Viorst: It has nothing to do with this case. Nothing. … he is a agency adherent to the Ten Commandments, which embrace thou shalt not kill.

However Jim Matthews, who joined that very same church not lengthy after Pankey left, says there’s one other commandment Pankey appears to be having hassle with: thou shalt not bear false witness.

Gloria and Jim Matthews
Gloria and Jim Matthews

CBS Information

Jim Matthews: He was not a youth employee at our church. He was the janitor.

Richard Schlesinger: Do you imagine that he was a menace to youngsters in that church? 

Gloria Matthews: We do not know. 

However Anthony Viorst says he is not frightened

Anthony Viorst: There is no bodily proof in anyway to attach Mr. Pankey to this crime. Zero bodily proof, OK?

John Gates is aware of the proof is circumstantial, however he believes it’s as robust as it’s unusual.

Mayor John Gates: That is … a few of the most weird stuff I’ve ever heard, and I have been across the block.


About two years after 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews vanished from her dwelling in Greeley, Colorado, her household made the painful resolution to pack up and depart city.

Jim Matthews: It’s important to go on with life. You may’t let this eat you.

Round that very same time, Steven Pankey, his younger son and his spouse, who was pregnant with their second son, additionally left Greeley. The Pankey household bounced round from state to state for some time. In 1989, they settled in Idaho, however Pankey admits he couldn’t cease enthusiastic about Jonelle.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: It might be behind my thoughts about this case … so I known as … the man who lived subsequent door … I simply requested, “did they ever resolve that Jonelle Matthews factor?” And he mentioned, no, to not his information.

However Pankey might need been extra than simply curious. In 1999 he instructed the Idaho Supreme Courtroom, after a conviction for as soon as once more inflicting a scene in a financial institution, that the conviction — which was dismissed years later — was partially an “try and drive” him “to change into an informant” in Jonelle’s disappearance. He additionally wrote that he feared he would possibly “get the demise penalty for revealing the situation of” her physique. 

Richard Schlesinger: See, that is bizarre. I imply, why would he say that if he did not know the place Jonelle Matthews was buried?

Anthony Viorst: Nicely, here is what I am going to say, Richard. I agree with you that it is bizarre …  It simply makes zero sense. It is simply — he’s a wierd man. … and we submit that … he by no means knew the place the physique was as a result of he did not do that.

However over time there was much more unusual habits, moments that, authorities imagine add as much as circumstantial proof. 

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

Kevin Schneider: Very odd.

Kevin Schneider says he met the Pankey household once they first moved to Idaho. His son was pals with Pankey’s son, Mark.

Richard Schlesinger: Did your son ever see any uncommon issues on the Pankey home when he was over there?

Kevin Schneider: Sure, he did. One time, I assume their household canine was doing lots of barking, and it was irritating Steven. And he took duct tape and wrapped it across the canine’s muzzle.

Richard Schlesinger: Ohh.

Pankey denies he ever did that, however Kevin says Pankey’s son Mark was so sad dwelling at dwelling that the Schneiders took him in for about six years.

Kevin Schneider: He could not take his dad.

In 2001, Pankey’s spouse filed for divorce, and he moved to Shoshone, Idaho, the place in 2004 with none expertise with regulation enforcement, apart from being arrested, he ran for sheriff.

He misplaced, however Pankey nonetheless wished to be sheriff someplace. In 2008, he considered operating in Twin Falls, the place he went to church with Ryan Horsley, a political marketing consultant.

Ryan Horsley: I used to be type of confused as a result of our native sheriff truly went to our church.

Richard Schlesinger: He wished to run in opposition to … a fellow church member?

Ryan Horsley: Yeah. … it simply appeared actually bizarre that he did not have a grievance in opposition to our native sheriff … And so simply appeared like he was simply operating simply to run.

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

Steve Pankey For Governor YouTube Web page

Pankey might need thought higher about operating in Twin Falls. In 2008, he ran for sheriff in Shoshone as soon as once more. And, as soon as once more, he did not come near profitable. However his political ambitions grew, and he grew to become a serial candidate.

Ryan Horsley: He is ran for lieutenant governor as soon as. … he is ran for governor two occasions. … And one of many occasions he ran for governor was an actual dumpster fireplace.

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

Ryan Horsley: He ran underneath the Constitutional Occasion. … at their state conference, he claimed that they tried to do an exorcism on him.

Richard Schlesinger: I am sorry, did you say an exorcism?

Ryan Horsley: Sure.

Richard Schlesinger: I do know that you are a politician and never a priest, however did he appear in want of an exorcism? 

Ryan Horsley: It simply appeared unusual. I used to be simply type of glued to the headlines this complete time on simply his tales — that they only did not make sense.

For the report, the Structure Occasion denies Pankey or anybody else was exorcised — at the least by them. In 2018, Pankey made a second try at changing into governor and to nobody’s shock, he misplaced. Ryan Horsley says that is when Pankey began gathering weapons.

Ryan Horsley: Out of the blue he started, um, buying firearms … and later came upon that Greeley Police Division had been contacting him relating to this homicide investigation.

And 6 weeks after Jonelle’s stays had been found, authorities had been at Pankey’s entrance door with a search warrant.

STEVE PANKEY [to KMVT]: They searched this place, they took my laptop computer …

Pankey had an fascinating subsequent transfer: he ran for sheriff once more.

Ryan Horsley: I believe that was his last-ditch effort, actually.

Richard Schlesinger: To do what?

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

It did not work.

DA MICHAEL ROURKE [to reporters]: It’s with nice honor immediately that we announce that the grand jury indicted a person named Steven Dana Pankey for the kidnapping and homicide of Jonelle Matthews.

On October 12, 2020, police arrested Steven Pankey for kidnapping and first-degree homicide.

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

Steve Pankey booking photo
In a matter of three days, on October 12, 2020, police arrested Pankey for kidnapping and first-degree homicide in Jonelle’s case. By February 3, 2021, Pankey pleaded not responsible to these crimes. 

Weld County Courthouse

Protection legal professional Anthony Viorst says the case in opposition to his shopper is only a weak and circumstantial assortment of unusual behaviors.

Anthony Viorst: I do not wish to expose my protection, , on nationwide tv … however I do not suppose it is going to be any shock after I inform you that they have no motive in anyway for this crime … there’s completely no indication Mr. Pankey knew this woman … knew the place she lived … had any need to kill her.

However the District Legal professional’s Workplace felt that they had sufficient proof to go to trial. And on October 13, 2021, a jury was seated and able to hear the case.


In August 2019, almost 35 years after Jonelle vanished, Gloria and Jim Matthews had been lastly capable of lay her to relaxation.

Jonelle Matthews burial
Jonelle Matthews was laid to relaxation almost 35 years after her disappearance.

Jim and Gloria Matthews

Jim Matthews: We knew that we wished to provide her a dignified burial and … I am not an actual emotional particular person. However boy, simply the floodgates opened up for each of us.

However there was no relaxation for the Matthews. They needed to wait a bit greater than two years —till October 2021, for this second: opening statements within the trial of Steven Pankey.

DA MICHAEL ROURKE: The seek for justice for Jonelle begins immediately.

DA MICHAEL ROURKE: The proof on this case will show … that the defendant is responsible of homicide within the first diploma and second-degree kidnapping.

Greeley Mayor John Gates was on the witness record.

Richard Schlesinger: What had been the challenges going through the prosecution?

Mayor John Gates: Nicely, I believe from a regulation enforcement perspective, the truth that … the case was 37 years previous. … The large factor in policing now’s DNA. That, in fact, does not exist.

Richard Schlesinger: The issue is there isn’t any bodily proof.

Mayor John Gates: Proper. 

Richard Schlesinger: So, you’ve got actually gotta imagine these prosecution witnesses to convict this man.

Mayor John Gates: No query.

After all, the prosecution additionally has Pankey’s personal phrases. He spent years insisting he had very important details about what occurred to Jonelle Matthews.

DA Michael Rourke: He wasn’t an individual of curiosity. And but he picks up the telephone. And he calls Detective Jack Stotler and he identifies himself as a ordained Baptist minister. He claimed that he had contact with someone who had details about Jonelle’s disappearance. However he did not surrender the knowledge.

“48 Hours” interviewed Pankey’s legal professional Anthony Viorst as he was making ready for trial.

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

Anthony Viorst: I am unable to reply that as a result of I am unable to get into his head however, however I do suppose … it is a mixture of form of obsessive-compulsive habits and , maybe even psychological sickness.

Mayor Gates thinks there’s loads of proof in opposition to Pankey.

Mayor John Gates: Essentially the most robust proof to me is the best way Mr. Pankey carried out himself from the time this occurred up till his indictment.  …The bucket of weird means quite a bit to me. … It builds a very, actually robust circumstantial case, in my thoughts.

Richard Schlesinger: Nicely, in some unspecified time in the future, your— your title got here outta that bucket of weird.

Mayor John Gates: Sure — it did.

And that is why Gates grew to become a prosecution witness. He testified a couple of name he obtained again in 2019, a couple of weird declare Pankey made in a letter to the media.

MAYOR JOHN GATES: I used to be … sitting at my desk in the future a while again. And had a name from a journalist in Idaho. … that instructed me that I would been named as an individual of curiosity on this case by Mr. Pankey. And I believe my jaw in all probability hit my desk, and I mentioned, “What?”

In one other jaw-dropping transfer, in that very same letter Pankey additionally named himself as an individual of curiosity, whereas nonetheless insisting he is harmless.

Anthony Viorst: Mr. Pankey loves the limelight. He simply does, for no matter motive.

Richard Schlesinger: It is a hell of a strategy to get the limelight. Is not it?

Anthony Viorst: It is not a great way. … I would not suggest it to anybody.

For Pankey, it might need began getting a bit sizzling underneath the limelight, if you’ll, when the state’s star witness, Angela Hicks, took the stand.

She is Steven Pankey’s ex-wife.

DA ROBERT MILLER: Describe what occurs on December 21 at your home.

That was simply in the future after Jonelle disappeared. Angela Hicks says her then-husband got here dwelling and seemingly out of the blue, introduced they had been leaving on that journey to California — and so they had been leaving rapidly.

ANGELA HICKS: He mentioned, “get us able to go. We’re leaving earlier than daylight tomorrow morning to go to Massive Bear for Christmas.”

Angela Hicks
One of many star witnesses on this case, Steven Pankey’s ex-wife Angela Hicks, testified about what she says she witnessed whereas married to Pankey. She described being pressured to hearken to information accounts about Jonelle’s disappearance, and she or he instructed jurors about discovering a bit of paper in Pankey’s trash. “And one of many issues notated in his handwriting on this piece of authorized paper was snow outdoors the Matthews home was raked,” she instructed jurors. 


Hicks says on their means again to Greeley, Pankey insisted she activate the radio. She says that shocked her as a result of Pankey had forbidden radio and tv use of their home, a couple of yr earlier.

ANGELA HICKS: “No extra music, no TV, no radio, no newspapers. That is going to be a godly dwelling.”

However Angela Hicks says that day, her ex-husband was obsessed — making her flip the dial seeking information about Jonelle’s disappearance.

DA ROBERT MILLER: How lengthy had been you driving as you flipped stations searching for information tales about Jonelle Matthews?

ANGELA HICKS: Um, I imply, a number of hours.

As soon as again in Greeley, she says Pankey drove proper previous their home, straight to the grocery retailer, the place he made her purchase the native papers and seek for information about Jonelle.

ANGELA HICKS: He wished me to learn every article out loud to him.

Hicks mentioned Pankey, over time, would convey up Jonelle or react unusually when others did. And she or he obtained actually involved when she discovered a word within the trash.

ANGELA HICKS: And one of many issues notated in his handwriting on this piece of authorized paper was snow outdoors the Matthews home was raked.

Jonelle Matthews home
Investigators searched the Matthews dwelling, however the one bodily proof they discovered had been shoeprints within the snow that somebody had tried to get rid of with a backyard rake. The rake got here, “proper out of my storage,” Jim Matthews instructed “48 Hours.”


Bear in mind these footprints within the snow that someone, probably Jonelle’s abductor, tried to hide utilizing a backyard rake? Prosecutors say solely the Matthews household, investigators and presumably the killer knew about them. However apparently Pankey knew. He even talked about them in a 2019 dialog, with investigators. 

Anthony Viorst: That’s arguably the one piece of proof that arguably ties Mr. Pankey to the crime. I imply …

Richard Schlesinger: Arguably? They by no means launched the details about the rake.

Anthony Viorst: So, here is what I am going to say … It is our place that it was divulged by regulation enforcement. All proper?

Richard Schlesinger: By the police.

Anthony Viorst: Yeah, they instructed him. All proper?

And moreover, Viorst instructed the jury that Pankey wasn’t the one one who knew about these raked footprints.

ANTHONY VIORST: Norris Drake, Girls and gents, knew that the footprints had been raked. 

Norris Drake. Viorst claims that he’s Jonelle’s killer. Within the years after Jonelle disappeared, Drake was arrested on a number of unrelated misdemeanor expenses.

ANTHONY VIORST: Norris Drake murdered Jonelle Matthews.

Kelly Werthmann: I imply, as a reporter, you begin lookin’ round … tryin’ to do some looking of who this particular person is.

Kelly Werthmann and others overlaying the trial had by no means heard the title Norris Drake earlier than, however—in contrast to Pankey—Drake had been questioned by police about Jonelle’s disappearance. His mom and sister lived throughout the road from the Matthews dwelling, and he was at his mom’s home the night time Jonelle was taken.

Norris Drake
Pankey’s protection provided a special idea. In accordance with legal professional Anthony Viorst, the one who killed Jonelle was somebody she knew. He says Norris Drake, whose mom lived throughout the road from Jonelle, is the killer. 

Weld County Sheriff’s Workplace

Kelly Werthmann: There have been no indicators of a wrestle contained in the Matthews dwelling … he may’ve been somebody that Jonelle had both seen earlier than … She would possibly’ve willingly opened the door, let him in; would possibly’ve willingly gone with him if he had mentioned … “one thing occurred to your loved ones, include me.”

ANTHONY VIORST: In order that’s why there was no wrestle, all proper? As a result of Norris Drake obtained her to go away the home. 

On the night time Jonelle vanished, Drake was unaccounted for for a number of hours. However when did he go lacking? Police stopped investigating him when his mom instructed them Drake was nonetheless together with her — in her home — on the time Jonelle is believed to have disappeared. 

Kelly Werthman: Nevertheless it raised some vital and, I believe, necessary questions.

And Viorst had extra, based mostly on testimony by a former girlfriend of Drake’s.

ANTHONY VIORST: Norris Drake had an curiosity in younger ladies who had not too long ago reached puberty, precisely what Jonelle was, precisely.

Norris Drake died in 2007, however many thought Viorst’s idea about him helped Pankey’s case. However essentially the most talkative particular person on this case had but to be heard from. Pankey himself would take the stand.

DA MICHAEL ROURKE The truest factor you’ve got ever mentioned is you are a grasp manipulator, proper?



When Steven Pankey swore to inform the reality and nothing however the fact, Gloria and Jim Matthews had been hoping to lastly get to the reality, about their daughter, Jonelle’s, homicide.

Jim Matthews: Hopefully we are going to know the situation of what occurred that night time.

However Pankey has by no means been a person with clear solutions.

STEVEN PANKEY: Within the little jail cubicle earlier than arising right here, I used to be praying and I used to be pondering, God, possibly I should not testify … As a result of I would be simply telling extra lies. 

Now underneath oath, Pankey mentioned it was time to say in truth that he was liar … till now.

STEVEN PANKEY: So, the reality is that I made lots of stuff up out of bitterness.

Like that story he as soon as instructed regulation enforcement about his father-in-law.

STEVEN PANKEY: He instructed me {that a} cop had contacted him and mentioned that he had a physique he wished to be buried.

STEVEN PANKEY: I had instructed so many lies.

That was one among many lies, says Pankey, meant to focus on individuals he hated, like his father-in-law, and Mayor John Gates.

STEVEN PANKEY: It was a well mannered means of flipping them the chicken. It was pure hatred on my half.

Richard Schlesinger:  Is that in any means plausible to you?

Mayor John Gates: It is to not me, ah, Richard. However take note, I am a 26-year regulation enforcement veteran. So, I may be a bit extra cynical than the common particular person.

STEVEN PANKEY: It was simply me making an attempt to be a giant man, be within the case, OK? I had no information. 

After listening to testimony from a number of witnesses, Steven Pankey took the stand. He testified that previously he had lied about his information of the case.


Pankey made an uncommon witness in his personal protection.

STEVEN PANKEY: … one lie results in one other.

Pankey says it was lies that led to him being charged with homicide, however not his lies; his ex-wife Angela Hicks’ lies fueled by her want for revenge.

STEVEN PANKEY: I had by no means imagined Angie could be as massive a liar as I’m. 

Pankey refuted his ex-wife’s declare that their journey to California two mornings after Jonelle disappeared was sudden — insisting it had lengthy been deliberate.

STEVEN PANKEY A month, three weeks, two months, I do not know, earlier than December.

He agreed they had been listening to the radio on their means again to Greeley.

STEVEN PANKEY: That is the primary time I heard that there was a lacking baby.

However denied he was obsessive about the information.

Kelly Werthmann: I believe it is, it is her phrase in opposition to his. So, the protection clearly has to show, sure, he is an admitted liar however he is not mendacity now.

Pankey was on the stand for 2 days giving testimony that was typically rambling and laborious to comply with, and typically head-scratching.

STEVEN PANKEY: I wanna again up a bit bit.

ANTHONY VIORST: Mr. Pankey, I am gonna ask you to reply my questions a bit extra instantly in case you do not thoughts.

STEVEN PANKEY: I spent a few hours within the basement jail space with my legal professional… and he was speaking to me about my testimony Mr. Viorst was saying to me — ‘trigger I might give sure issues and he’d say, “properly, that is a superb reply.” … After which I would say different issues and he’d say, “properly, that is bull—— no person’s going to purchase that.”

ANTHONY VIORST: He lives in a world of conspiracy, paranoia and low vanity.

In his closing argument, Viorst, who’s a lawyer, not a psychiatrist, raised severe questions on his shopper’s psychological well being.

ANTHONY VIORST: Mr. Pankey does have a psychological sickness. 

Richard Schlesinger: Pankey’s protection lawyer instructed me that he thought his shopper may be mentally in poor health. If that is the speculation of the protection, did Pankey’s time on the stand assist him or damage him?

Mayor John Gates: I may see that goin’ both means.

However the state noticed it going their means.

DA ROBERT MILLER:  He isn’t somebody that has a psychological well being dysfunction, he is a grasp manipulator. 

On November 2, 2021, the jurors obtained the case. And two days later they had been again.

JUDGE TIMOTHY KERNS: Has the jury reached a unanimous verdict on depend quantity 4?

Depend 4: making false reviews to authorities.

JUDGE TIMOTHY KERNS: We the jury discover the defendant Steven Dana Pankey responsible.

Mayor John Gates: I believe that half would possibly’ve match into the no-brainer class. The opposite counts had been — had been way more advanced than that, for my part.

On these different counts, the precise homicide expenses, the jury deadlocked and couldn’t come to a unanimous verdict.

JUDGE TIMOTHY KERNS: I notice the jury was unable to achieve a verdict on the opposite counts and that could be a completely acceptable means for a trial to conclude.

The decide declared a mistrial. And as of now, no person has been convicted of murdering Jonelle.

Mayor John Gates: The jury seemingly was conflicted on was Mr. Pankey, in reality, somebody that kidnapped and murdered Jonelle Matthews? Or was he one which simply surrounded himself with unusual, weird habits for years?

Jonelle Matthews
Jonelle Matthews

Jim and Gloria Matthews

For the household of Jonelle Matthews, the information was so devastating they did not wish to focus on it.

Kelly Werthmann: To not have that definitive reply … It is irritating. It is emotional. It is exhausting.

And so they might must do all of it once more. Prosecutors have introduced they’re prepared for a brand new trial, as a result of they nonetheless imagine Jonelle was killed by Steven Pankey.

Richard Schlesinger: What do you suppose occurred to your sister?

Jennifer Mogensen: I do not know specifics. … however he took her … he shot her. After which he buried her and went on along with his life. And she or he couldn’t go on with hers.

Steven Pankey is in custody awaiting a brand new trial date.

Produced by Judy Rybak. Claire St. Amant is the event producer. Doreen Schechter is the producer-editor. Ryan N. Smith is a growth producer. Jordan Kinsey, Elizabeth Caholo and Lauren A. White are the sector producers. Ken Blum and Jud Johnston are the editors. Chelsea Narvaez is the affiliate producer. Patti Aronofsky is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the manager story editor. Judy Tygard is the manager producer.


Josh Gelman
Josh Gelman

Josh Gelman/Fb, MSKCC.org

Josh Gelman, “48 Hours” producer who embodied bravery and hope, dies of most cancers  

Josh Gelman, a multi-award-winning producer for “48 Hours,” died Tuesday night, January 4, on the age of 62, after an extended, brave battle with most cancers. In his almost three-decade profession at CBS Information, Josh displayed his quite a few abilities as an editor, producer, author and photographer. His supreme present was discovering, capturing, and deploying pictures that exposed the emotion and deeper meanings on the coronary heart of each story. Josh was additionally beloved as a colleague who at all times took the time to mentor, to show, to assist. 

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