Former Idaho governor candidate under investigation in 1984 slaying

Erin Udell, Fort Collins Coloradoan
Jonelle Matthews' picture and information was printed in newspapers, on milk cartons and broadcast on TV specials as the nation took notice of missing and endangered children in the 1980s.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – A former candidate for Idaho governor recently revealed he is under investigation in the 1984 slaying of a Colorado girl.

Steve Pankey, 68, told the Idaho Statesman on Thursday that authorities in Twin Falls, Idaho, served him a search warrant last week saying investigators had probable cause to believe he kidnapped and killed 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews, who went missing from her Greeley home on Dec. 20, 1984, after a Christmas choir concert.

The Greeley Police Department did not respond to the Coloradoan's requests for comment Friday.

The department said in a prepared statement Friday that law enforcement officers have never made a request to obtain Pankey’s DNA. The department says Pankey remains a person of interest in the investigation.

On July 24, crews digging for a pipeline in a rural Weld County oil field uncovered a set of skeletal remains. The next day, Greeley police confirmed they belonged to Matthews, who had been the subject of a Weld County missing persons case, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Jonelle's sister, Jennifer Mogensen, declined to comment on the investigation Friday.

Pankey and his former wife lived about 2 miles away from the Matthews family in 1984, according to the Statesman. Pankey told the newspaper that investigators had asked to speak with him multiple times about Jonelle after her disappearance, but he refused to do so without an attorney.

Mike Peters holds a photo of Jonelle Mattews in his home in Greeley.

Last week, roughly a month after Pankey said he submitted DNA to police in the case, authorities searched his Twin Falls condo and car.

Pankey was a 2014 Constitution Party candidate for governor in Idaho. He ran for the seat as a Republican in the 2018 primary.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Cold case: Former Idaho candidate under investigation in girl’s slaying