Steve Pankey, 68, told the Idaho Statesman that he was served with a warrant and his home was searched, due to probable cause that he had kidnapped and murdered Jonelle Matthews in 1984.
At the time Matthews went missing from her home, Pankey and his then-wife lived just two miles from the girl’s residence in Greeley, Colorado. He moved to Idaho in 1987.
The missing persons case became a murder case on July 23, 2019, The Hill reported, after a contruction crew in Weld County, Idaho, found the girl’s body.
Pankey said he was served with the warrant and his home and car were subsequently searched by a SWAT team about one month after he had provided authorities with a DNA sample; however, no criminal charges have been filed against him at this time.
The former Republican gubernatorial candidate said he has had a tense relationship with police since he faced a sexual assault charge in 1977 that was later dismissed by prosecutors. At the time, he was a youth pastor but stepped down after he was charged.
Pankey claimed he has been charged in the years since with as many as 20 “arbitrary” misdemeanors, The Hill reported.
He said he had nothing to do with Matthew’s disappearance or death and was at home with his then-wife when the girl went missing, though Pankey acknowledged that he attended the same church as her family.
“I never met Jonelle, I never met her family, I didn’t know she existed or disappeared until Wednesday, Dec. 26 (1984),” Pankey told the Idaho Statesman.