48 Hours – March 27 2021 – 3/27/2021 – Saturday – CBS

FORMER POLITICIAN STEVEN PANKEY IS ARRESTED FOR MURDERING 12-YEAR OLD JONELLE MATTHEWS, WHO VANISHED 36 YEARS AGO, AFTER PANKEY BIZARRELY NAMED HIMSELF A PERSON OF INTEREST

“48 Hours” Investigates in “The Kidnapping of Jonelle Matthews”

Jonelle Matthews disappeared from Greeley, Colo., more than 36 years ago. For a while, the image of the smiling 12-year-old was featured on milk cartons looking for missing children. But then the case went cold. Until now.

Correspondent Richard Schlesinger and 48 HOURS investigate the disappearance of Jonelle and how more than three decades later, one-time Idaho gubernatorial candidate Steven Dana Pankey became a person of interest in the case in “The Kidnapping of Jonelle Matthews” to be broadcast Saturday, March 27 (10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

The former political candidate is an unlikely suspect. Jonelle’s family had never heard of him when their daughter disappeared.

In 1984, just five days before Christmas, Jonelle vanished from her family’s home. The only physical evidence found by police was a stranger’s shoeprints left in the snow – footprints someone tried to cover up using a garden rake. The case drew national attention, but then turned cold.

“Everywhere we went I was always looking for her,” says Gloria Matthews, Jonelle’s mother. “I always had hope that I would find her. … In my dreams she always came home. You know, she always came home.”

Jonelle never came home. In July 2019, a crew digging a pipeline discovered human remains, the victim of a gunshot. The coroner confirmed it was Jonelle.

The discovery of Jonelle’s body was not the end of the story, Schlesinger reports. Instead, the investigation went into a shocking new direction.

Investigators began to focus on Steven Pankey, a former candidate for Governor of Idaho, and a one-time resident of Greeley, Colo. Pankey has publicly said he never met Jonelle Matthews. Yet, his indictment points to repeated statements implicating Pankey – made by Pankey. He allegedly volunteered, without being asked, what he claimed were details about when Matthews died. He also drew up a list of persons of interest with his name on it, according to the indictment.

Pankey has been charged with Jonelle’s murder and will stand trial in July. He pleaded not guilty.

“He’s a talkative guy,” says Anthony Viorst, Pankey’s attorney. “But he’s not a murderer.”

Instead, says Viorst, Pankey craves attention.

“Mr. Pankey wanted to be a person of interest,” Viorst says. “Mr. Pankey could have laid low. Nobody would have charged him. Mr. Pankey loves the limelight.”

Schlesinger and 48 HOURS report the story through exclusive interviews with Jonelle’s family and friends, the mayor of Greeley Colo., and Pankey’s attorney.

48 HOURS: “The Kidnapping of Jonelle Matthews” is produced by Judy Rybak. Claire St. Amant and Ryan N. Smith are the development producers. Jordan Kinsey is the field producer. Doreen Schechter is the producer-editor. Ken Blum is the editor. Patti Aronofsky is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer.


This newsmagazine investigates intriguing crime and justice cases that touch on all aspects of the human experience. Over its long run, the show has helped exonerate wrongly convicted people, driven the reopening — and resolution — of cold cases, and changed numerous lives. CBS News correspondents offer an in-depth look into each story, with the emphasis on solving the mystery at its heart. The program and its team have earned critical acclaim, including 20 Emmys and three Peabody Awards.

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About 48 Hours

This newsmagazine investigates intriguing crime and justice cases that touch on all aspects of the human experience. Over its long run, the show has helped exonerate wrongly convicted people, driven the reopening — and resolution — of cold cases, and changed numerous lives. CBS News correspondents offer an in-depth look into each story, with the emphasis on solving the mystery at its heart. The program and its team have earned critical acclaim, including 20 Emmys and three Peabody Awards.

This show is broadcast on CBS, also known as the Columbia Broadcasting System.

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