Governor candidate found guilty for murder of girl missing since 1984


Steven Pankey (left) was convicted for the homicide of Jonelle Matthews, who disappeared from her Colorado house 38 years in the past (Photos: AP/CBS/Reuters)

A former politician was discovered responsible of homicide after the disappearance of a 12-year-old woman virtually 40 years in the past.

Steven Pankey, who was the Structure Get together’s candidate for Governor of Idaho in two latest elections, was convicted on Monday of kidnapping, homicide, and false reporting after Jonelle Matthews disappeared in 1984.

Pankey, 71, was sentenced to life in jail with the opportunity of parole after 20 years.

Matthews, who was 12 on the time of her disappearance, was kidnapped from her house in Greeley, Colorado.

Steven Pankey is introduced into the courtroom in Greeley, Colorado (Image: AP)

She had simply returned house from singing in a Christmas pageant when investigators imagine she was kidnapped at gunpoint.

The case briefly gained nationwide consideration within the Nineteen Eighties when then-President Ronald Reagan talked about Matthews by identify as a part of a push to get nationwide media protection of lacking youngsters instances.

Matthews was then portrayed on milk cartons throughout the nation as a part of the Nationwide Youngster Security Council.

Matthews was lacking for 35 years till her stays have been found in a subject by prospecting oil and gasoline employees in 2019. She had died from a single bullet wound to her cranium.

Investigators looked for Jonelle Matthews for 35 years till her stays have been found in a distant a part of Weld County (Image: AP)

Pankey was indicted by a grand jury and subsequently arrested in 2020. There was no direct DNA proof linking the previous gubernatorial candidate to the crime, however investigators discovered his private obsession with the chilly case suspicious.

In keeping with the indictment, Pankey had ‘deliberately inserted himself within the investigation many instances over time claiming to have data of the crime which grew inconsistent and incriminating over time.’

Police additionally stated that Pankey had promised to cause them to Matthews’ physique if he acquired immunity from prosecution. The prosecution used these statements in opposition to him.

‘That’s one thing harmless folks don’t do,’ prosecutor Michael Rourke stated in his closing arguments.

Jennifer Mogensen holds a poster of her adopted sister, Janelle Matthews (Image: AP)

Pankey’s ex-wife, Angela Hicks, additionally testified in opposition to him. Hicks described him as a strict, religious Christian that by no means learn or listened to the radio.

After Matthews’ disappearance, Hicks stated her ex-husband started making her take heed to radio information tales concerning the case, and bought newspapers with tales about her.

Prosecutors argued that his motive got here from his intense hatred of the Sunny View Church of the Nazarene – the place Matthews and her household attended companies.

Pankey maintained his innocence by means of your complete trial. He made just one temporary assertion to the court docket throughout his sentencing: ‘I’m a Christian, I can be in heaven, I’m harmless, and this isn’t justice for Jonelle.’

Pankey ran for governor of Idaho in 2014 and 2018 on the Structure Get together ticket after failing to get the Republican nomination. His marketing campaign web site describes him as a ‘Christian conservative’ and ‘ardent defender of the structure.’

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