Cold case solved after 37 years |
Ex-politician shot 12-year-old in the head
Knacki instead of politicians.
This is the dubious career of Steve Pankey (71). The American has now been sentenced to life imprisonment for killing Jonelle Matthews († 12) with a headshot almost four decades ago.
The Colorado state jury found it proven that Pankey had abducted the girl from her parents’ home on December 20, 1984. The seventh year had just returned from a Christmas concert. Mother Gloria was on vacation, father Jim was watching a basketball game.
The disappearance of Jonelle, which was still listed as a missing person at the time, drew national attention. Because the 12-year-old was part of a campaign launched by President Ronald Reagan († 93) to draw attention to the more than one million missing children in the United States. Among other things, the face of the wanted person was printed on milk cartons.
In 2019, investigators finally found the girl’s body. And even then, the ex-politician (Pankey had unsuccessfully run for various offices in 2014 and 2018) was targeted by the cold case investigators.
The noose around the 71-year-old apparently tightened quickly, so Steve Pankey wanted to make a deal and posed as an insider with background knowledge of Jonelle’s death. However, the police and prosecutors did not agree and took him to court. A first procedure failed. In the second trial, Pankey was convicted without finding any DNA evidence.
The victim’s sister, Jennifer Mogensen, said after the verdict was announced: “My husband never met his sister-in-law and my son never met his aunt.”
The parents of the dead also spoke to the press. Jim Matthews advised the convict to confess: “The gates of heaven can still open to you. It’s not too late Steve Pankey. God is waiting.”
The 71-year-old had protested his innocence in court.