Home » Who is Steve D Pankey?(Former Idaho governor candidate charged with killing Colorado girl, 12, in 1984 goes on trial: Prosecutors say he was NOT a suspect ) Wiki, Bio, Age,Family,Facebook,Arrested,Charged,Investigation, Instagram, Twitter & Quick Facts
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Who is Steve D Pankey?(Former Idaho governor candidate charged with killing Colorado girl, 12, in 1984 goes on trial: Prosecutors say he was NOT a suspect ) Wiki, Bio, Age,Family,Facebook,Arrested,Charged,Investigation, Instagram, Twitter & Quick Facts

Steve D Pankey

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Who is Steve D Pankey ?

A former Idaho gubernatorial candidate is on trial for the 1984 murder of a 12-year-old Colorado girl after his obsession with the case led prosecutors to flag him as a suspect.

There is no DNA, fingerprint or fingerprint evidence linking Pankey to Jonelle’s death. But Weld District Attorney Michael Rourke said Pankey’s written and verbal comments about the crime led investigators to consider him more than a true crime fanatic that he was obsessed with the case.wikipedia

Pankey has said that he was in California with his family at the time of the murder, but his ex-wife has come forward to dispute that claim and says the trip was only planned after Matthews disappeared.

Arrested and Charged

Steve D Pankey, 70, was arrested in October 2020 for kidnapping and murdering Jonelle Matthews in December 1984, with his repeated visits to the police to try to discuss the case and put his essence on them, a court was told.

His trial began at 9 a.m. Wednesday and opening statements from his defense attorney Anthony Viorst addressed Pankey’s infatuation with this case, his Asperger’s condition, and his confessions of knowing the key details surrounding Jonelle’s disappearance, according to the Greeley Tribune.

At one point, Viorst also called his client, a former 7UP factory worker, is a ‘busy body’ who loves to snoop into other people’s affairs and added that he is ‘crazy’, about which a psychologist will testify later.


The 37-year-old case began on December 20, 1984, the last day Jonelle was seen alive. That night she attended a Christmas choir concert hosted by her friend and her father, who dropped her off at their Greeley home after the show.

Her father came home an hour later, after Jonelle’s sister’s basketball game. Her youngest daughter was nowhere to be found.

Pankey’s interest in Jonelle’s case was apparently piqued within days of her disappearance, although the former politician said he was at home with his wife and his son watching the weather channel that night. They had plans to take a trip to California the next day, according to the Tribune.wikipedia

Later, even Pankey referred to his statement as a “good alibi, not a great alibi,” which Rourke pointed to Wednesday to argue that Pankey’s defense was weak.

And Angela Hicks, Pankey’s ex-wife, said her then-husband came home and announced the family trip to California the day after the girl’s disappearance, prompting the claims of the alleged timeline murderer were chaos.

Meanwhile, Jonelle’s photo appeared on the side of a milk carton in a ‘Missing’ ad, and the young man was one of the first people whose case was printed on cardboard to try and drive leads. The effort was championed by former President Ronald Reagan’s ‘mission of mercy’ and Jonelle was one of the first children to appear.


A year after Jonelle was born, the Pankey family moved to Greeley, Colorado, and became a neighbor of the Matthews family. Pankey, from Ventura, California, served as a youth minister at Sunny View Church of the Nazarene after serving in the United States Army and touring Panama.

According to the Tribune, the Matthews family attended the church where Pankey gave sermons.

Jonelle’s photo appeared on the side of a milk carton in a ‘Missing’ ad in the days after her disappearance (pictured). The effort was promoted by former President Ronald Reagan’s ‘mission of mercy’ and Jonelle was one of the first children to appear

Twelve years later, Pankey had his wife seek radio coverage of Jonelle’s case at the Hicks on the family’s way back to Greeley. Hicks also noticed that Pankey didn’t even listen to the radio.

According to the Tribune, once she was home, she also forced her to buy newspapers, select the stories about Jonelle, and read them.

Hicks has plans to testify at the trial at a later date, but Rourke addressed Pankey’s seemingly neurotic actions that Hicks told police about in his opening statements.

He also mentioned some oddities, not just the abrupt drive to the west coast, but also Hicks’ mention of him digging in the front yard on his return.

He also pointed out that days later there was a burning car in the backyard. Pankey had said that he simply “burst into flames”, but Rourke noted that a person at the salvage yard where Pankey dumped the vehicle described the fire as a “false fire.”


Almost a decade later, in 1993, Pankey wrote and self-published a book titled Graveyards: The Untold Story. In it he wrote a plot in which a group of pastors from Sunny View Church in Greeley are part of a secret society called The Inner Circle.

Together, the pastors committed ‘rape-murders’, Medium reported.

Then in 1999, Pankey was still obsessed with the case and told his wife that he was frustrated that the police refused to give him immunity for the information he had on Jonelle.

According to Medium, when Hicks responded with a confused expression, Pankey said, ‘You don’t think I could have hurt her, do you? She looked like you.

Pankey reportedly made several visits to the police over the years saying that he had knowledge about the missing young woman, but instead wanted to know where they were in investigating him.

At one point, Pankey even named himself a person of interest in the case, along with Mayor John Gates, Matthews family friend Russ Ross, and former Police Chief Mark Jones, Rourke mentioned at trial. on Wednesday.

“The truth does not change, the reality cannot be twisted,” the district attorney said, adding that “however, the defendant’s story changes all the time.”

In 2008, Pankey’s son was shot and killed by his girlfriend. At the funeral, Hicks told investigators that he heard Pankey say, “I hope God didn’t allow this to happen because of Jonelle Matthews.”

It wasn’t until November 2014 that Pankey left Colorado and ran for governor of Idaho as a candidate for the Constitution Party. He lost the general election.

He ran again as a candidate for the Republican Party in 2018 and lost the primary election in May of that year. He got just over one percent of the vote.

A year later, in the summer of 2019, Jonelle’s remains were finally found. Oil and gas workers discovered her body by chance while digging a pipeline in rural Weld County, Colorado, the Tribune reported.

Later, investigators discovered through an autopsy that he had been fatally shot with a single gunshot wound to the forehead.

Then in June 2020, while under investigation for murder, Pankey even decided to run for sheriff in Twin Falls County, Idaho. He also lost that race.

When Pankey’s attorney, Anthony Viorst, made his opening remarks, he pointed to the absence of a motive, the lack of connection between the Pankeys and the Matthews, and their ignorance that the 12-year-old would be home alone that night, according to the newspaper. Grandstand.

Earlier this year a 48 Hours special was made on the case

Viorst even claimed that the evidence points to Norris Drake, the son of a neighbor who lived across the street from Matthews at the time of Jonelle’s disappearance. He said Drake was at his mother’s house the night of December 20 and left when Jonelle got home from the show.

The defense attorney also said that Drake’s roommates reported that he did not come home until early the next morning and noted that his ex-girlfriend claimed he had an interest in young girls.

Unlike Drake, Pankey had no sexual interest in children, Viorst said at the beginning of the trial. Based on Hicks’ comments and the alleged killer’s computer history, he’s only interested in adult women and men, the Tribune reported.

However, Hicks has given investigators several statements to the contrary over the more than three decades that this case has been ongoing.

Viorst noted that the ex-wife has said that her ex-husband only had a gun from when he was working as a security guard, which he disposed of early in their marriage before 1984. He later told police that he had several weapons and that the couple liked to go shooting together.

Viorst claimed that Pankey was so obsessed with Jonelle’s case because he was a ‘true crime junkie’ and couldn’t help but be involved in such a major crime that happened in his own town. At other points, he also said that his client is a ‘busybody’ who loves to snoop into other people’s affairs, that he’s ‘crazy’ and has Asperger’s, which doesn’t help his obsessive personality. According to the Tribune, a psychologist will later testify about his condition.

Interestingly, earlier this year, Viorst appeared on a 48-hour special on the case and explained that Pankey purposely inserted himself into the investigation because he “ loves being the center of attention. ”

“Mr. Pankey wanted to be a person of interest,” Viorst said in a preview of the special, which aired in March 2021. “Mr. Pankey could have been quiet.” No one would have accused him.

The lawyer added that he “is a talkative guy, but he is not a murderer.”

After Rourke and Viorst’s opening statements on Wednesday, four witnesses were called to the stand: Jonelle’s parents Jim and Gloria Matthews, her sister Jenn Mogensen, and the man who took Jonelle home the night Russ Ross disappeared. .

Jim recalled coming home the night of December 20, 1984. He said the garage door was open, Jonelle’s shoes were on the floor, and the space heater was on in her bedroom, but she wasn’t there. In the House.

The father testified that since her daughter was only 12 years old, he did not believe that she could have been coerced by the person who abducted her, the Tribune reported.

Jenn came home about 30 minutes later and Jim said he was already calling people to find out the whereabouts of her daughter. Finally, he called the police.

Gloria testified that she was out of town, but she returned home the next day with the horrible news. She noted that the only thing missing from the house was a pair of slippers that belonged to her or Jonelle.

The three surviving members of the Matthews family said they did not even know Pankey’s identity until he was arrested last year, according to the Tribune.

When Ross was called up for the job, Viorst noted that the Matthews’ family friend used to work at a local 7 Up Bottling Company with Pankey.

When Ross was transferred to Greeley in 1980 to fill a sales manager position, it was reported that Pankey was in the middle of a legal battle with the company. According to Medium, Pankey claimed that a police officer was trying to get him fired from his job at the bottling company and then filed a lawsuit against the area manager.

But these were far from the first conflicts Pankey had with others and there are multiple reports that he had money problems throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In 1976, a trailer park owner filed a lawsuit on his behalf. against harassment and death threats. In 1977, a woman he knew from the church accused him of raping her.

Ross said he knew that Pankey had made past statements at work about harming people and possessing a gun.

According to the Tribune, Viorst argued that he had a grudge between former employees, which could explain why Pankey was possibly following Ross home the night he left Jonelle alone and she disappeared.

But Ross said he never had discussions or disagreements with Pankey in the past.

The trial is scheduled to continue Thursday in Weld District Court.

Steve D Pankey Quick and Facts

  • Steve D Pankey, 70, was arrested in October 2020 for kidnapping and murdering Jonelle Matthews in December 1984. His trial began Wednesday, October 13
  • Pankey. a former 7UP factory worker, was not a suspect in the case but became one after he drew up a list of persons of interest and put his own name on it
  • He claimed to have been in California at the time of the murder, but his ex-wife has insisted the trip took place after Matthews’ murder  
  • In opening statements his defense attorney Anthony Viorst said Pankey became obsessed with the case because he’s a ‘true crime junkie’ with Asperger’s
  • Viorst also said his client is a ‘busy-body’ who loves snooping into other people’s business and he’s ‘crazy’, which a psychologist will later testify about
  • Pankey’s ex-wife Angela Hicks said her then-husband ‘uncharacteristically’ listened to the radio and had her read him news articles about Jonelle
  • He reportedly told Hicks that he was frustrated that police refused to give him immunity for information he had about Jonelle 
  • Jonelle went missing on December 20, 1984, and her body was found in an oil field on July 23, 2019 
  • An autopsy revealed she died from a single fatal gunshot wound to her forehead

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