Former Idaho Governor Candidate On Trial For Murder in Colorado
Steven Pankey moved to Idaho in 1987 from Colorado. He ran for numerous government positions in the gem state over the decades, including for Govenor in 2014 and 2018 and most recently for Twin Falls County sheriff in 2020. Although he was never elected he had some influence and has been a Twin Falls resident for over 30 years.
According to The Idaho Statesman and a news release from the Weld County District Attorney's Office, the 70-year-old man is now facing a jury trial in the murder of a 12 year old girl that happened in December of 1984. Pankey lived about 2 miles from the girl and her family and also attended the same church.
The girl named Jonelle Matthews went missing and even through extensive searches was not found until July of 2019, 10 miles from Pankey's then home. A construction crew found her remains while excavating for a pipeline. Once her body was found and named a homicide, Pankey was named the main suspect, he was also labeled a person of interest during the initial police investigation in 84.
Twin Falls police served a search warrant on Pankey's condo and in an interview with The Idaho Statesman he claimed that he was home with his then-wife on the night Matthews went missing. On Oct. 9, 2020, he was indicted on several felony counts, including murder and kidnapping. He was arrested in Idaho and extradited to Colorado.
A few things have led investigators to suspect Steven Pankey. He allegedly used to watch children walk home from the nearby middle school that the girl attended. According to investigators, Pankey knew a piece of evidence not publicly disclosed about a rake being used to hide footprints in the snow near the girls home. According to authorities he also "intentionally inserted himself into the investigation many times over the years, claiming to have knowledge of the crime which grew inconsistent and incriminating over time."