GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – The trial in a decades-old murder has ended in a mistrial after the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on three of the four charges. Steve Pankey was suspected in the murder of 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews in Greeley in 1984.
Pankey pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and murder and faced four charges in the case including false reporting. He was arrested last year after Jonelle’s remains were found earlier.
The jury began deliberations on noon Tuesday and told the judge they were done deliberating about 11:30 a.m. Thursday. The jury could not reach an unanimous decision on the two counts of murder (murder in the first degree after deliberation and murder in the first degree felony murder) and the kidnapping charge but did convict him of false reporting to authorities.
A new hearing is set for Monday afternoon which will address sentencing on the false reporting conviction, Pankey’s bond and potentially re-filing the murder and kidnapping charges.
On Dec. 20, 1984 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews sang in a concert and was dropped at home by a friend and the friend’s father. She was last seen at 8 p.m., entering the ranch-style home where she lived with her father, Jim; mother, Gloria; and sister. But when her father returned from her sister’s basketball game an hour later, Jonelle was gone.
Jonelle was considered missing until workers digging a pipeline in July 2019 discovered human remains matching her dental records in a rural area in Weld County. Police then labeled her death a homicide. An autopsy report suggests she died of a gunshot wound to the head.
Pankey was not a family friend of the Matthews family. However, he did attend the same church and was part of the same social circles as the family.