Nov 5, 2021 - News

Mistrial declared in Jonelle Matthews case that riveted Colorado

District Attorney Michael Rourke looks to the ground outside the courtroom after a mistrial was declared Thursday in Weld County District Court. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

A three-decade-old cold case in the disappearance of Jonelle Matthews ended when a judge declared a mistrial Thursday.

What happened: A Weld County jury could not reach a verdict on the main charges against 70-year-old Steve Pankey. He was arrested in 2020, a year after the 12-year-old girl's remains were found buried at an oil and gas field outside Greeley.

  • The jury found Pankey guilty of false reporting to authorities, a misdemeanor. He testified at trial that he lied to law enforcement, the Greeley Tribune reported.

Flashback: Matthews disappeared from her home five days before Christmas in 1984. Her case riveted Colorado and gained national media attention.

  • Pankey, an Idaho resident, landed on detectives' radar early in the investigation, saying he had information about the case.
  • The indictment accused Pankey of forcing Matthews from her home at gunpoint and shooting her in the head.

What's next: Prosecutors are considering whether to pursue another trial, 9News reported.


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