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Who is the main suspect in the death of Jonelle Matthews and where is he right now?

Who is the main suspect in the death of Jonelle Matthews and where is he right now?

The tragic abduction and murder of 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews are the main topics of the most recent 48 Hours broadcast on CBS. According to a quick summary of the program on CBS News:

“A former gubernatorial candidate is charged with abducting a 12-year-old girl. Reporter Richard Schlesinger for “48 Hours” asks, “Does his decades-long passion with the case indicate he’s a true-crime junkie or a murderer?”

Nearly 35 years after Jonelle Matthews’ bones were found, Steven Pankey was detained on suspicion of abducting and killing the 12-year-old girl. To learn more about Steven Pankey, keep reading.

Who is Steven Pankey from the 48 Hours segment on CBS?

Back in 1984, when Jonelle Matthews vanished a few days before Christmas, Steven Pankey resided close to Jonelle Matthews’ house. In the years following Jonelle’s disappearance, according to CBS News, Pankey and his family moved to a number of other locations before settling in Idaho. Before entering politics, Pankey reportedly worked as a car salesperson and a security guard before relocating to Idaho.

Pankey has battled the law on numerous occasions throughout the years. For “making a nuisance and harassment” at a bank, he was once detained. Pankey contributed to the investigation into the 12-year-disappearance old’s in the Jonelle Matthews case by giving police information.

According to CBS News, Pankey claimed that the police’s lack of response to his letters caused him to lose interest in the case. But when Jonelle’s bones were found in July 2019, things took a horrific turn. According to an interview with KMTV, a month later, police allegedly searched Pankey’s home and removed his laptop, cell phones, and “a number of images.”

A Weld County grand jury returned an indictment against Steven Pankey, who was subsequently detained in October 2020 on suspicion of kidnapping and first-degree murder. He entered a not-guilty plea to the accusations. Pankey’s attorney at the time, Anthony J. Viorst, argued that although Pankey enjoyed publicity, he was not a murderer. He stated to 48 Hours:

Mr. Pankey enjoys being in the spotlight. He merely acts like way for any motive

According to the indictment, his awareness of a rake used to clear snow tracks from Jonelle Matthews’ property was arguably the most damning piece of evidence. His attorney countered that the authorities had informed him of the rake.

An important turning point in the trial occurred when Pankey’s ex-wife took the witness stand and informed the jury that he had forced her to listen to the radio news reports about Jonelle Matthews’ disappearance and that she had discovered a piece of paper in the trash can that mentioned that the snow had been raked outside Jonelle’s house. During the trial, Pankey admitted that he had faked knowledge of the case. He stated (as reported by CBS News):

Just wanting to be a big man and be in the case, you understand? I didn’t know anything.”

He was found to have lied about knowing about the case. However, the court declared a mistrial because the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the murder and kidnapping counts. His next trial is scheduled to start on October 4, 2022, and he is reportedly being held in the Weld County jail.

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