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Man’s long obsession with the 1984 disappearance of a 12-year-old girl at the center of a murder trial.

Jonel Mathews

The disappearance of Greeley’s 12-year-old Junile Mathews in 1984 over Steven Pankey’s decades-long murder case is at the center of it.

Whether it is evidence of a fixing crime or just a genuine criminal obsession, the Weld County jury will decide. Five week trial It began with a statement that began on Wednesday.

Panki, 70, is charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping in Junil’s death. The girl disappeared when she was briefly alone at home on December 20, 1984. The body was not discovered until 2019.A He was shot in the forehead and buried in a remote, sandy field.

There is no DNA evidence in the case, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke told the jury during preliminary statements.

He said, “What you will hear is kind of evidence older than time. Statements. Statements of the defendant himself. Statements and practices that will lead you to a conclusion – he is the person we have been with for 35 years. Looking for

Ada County, Idaho, Sheriff’s Office.

Steven Pankey.

But Pankie’s defense attorney, Anthony Weaverst, said Pankie had nothing to do with Juniel’s murder and the jury was given the idea that another man whose mother lived across the street from the Matthews family had committed the murder.

Werwest said Pankey became involved in Jonel’s case because he was a “real crime maniac” and involved himself in the investigation with a growing sense of importance. Weird said Pankey lives with Asperger’s Syndrome, which changes the way he handles information. He called Pankey “a little crazy” and said he was a “white liar.”

In addition to Jonel’s case, Pankey had previously claimed involvement in a separate murder in the 1970s, but he was not involved and someone else was convicted.

“Steve Pankey is a busy body,” Worst said. “He gets into people’s business. I’m not here to say it’s a great standard, but that’s it. He gets in the middle of things. And when it comes to these real crime situations. If so, he is particularly interested and he gets involved.

Winworth said he did not have a gun when the panel was at home with his family. But just a few weeks after the disappearance, years of pancakes. Claimed to have information about this case. And asked for an exemption in exchange for sharing this information with the police.

The day after Jonel’s disappearance, Pankey went to visit the family on a wonderful road trip in California with his then wife and child. Rurke said back on the drive, he listened to the radio obsessively for information about the girl’s case. When he got home, he drove his wife to a grocery store, told her to pick up the newspapers of the last few days, and then, in the car, read aloud all the stories about Jonel. Over the next few days, Rurke said, he dug into his front yard and a car caught fire on his property.

Within a few weeks, Pankey went to the FBI, claiming he was a minister (he was not) and said he had learned about the murder through a pastor’s confession. Rurke said the FBI dismissed the allegations as “irrelevant.” But it was the beginning of decades of obsession for Panki.

Data Downloaded from Pankey’s electronic devices. Apparently he did thousands of online searches on Jonel’s case. Rorke said that in August 2019, a month after Jonel’s body was discovered, he clicked on a news article stating that there was no DNA in the case.

“Two days later, he voluntarily picked up the phone and said, ‘I want to volunteer my DNA’ – when he knows there is no DNA in this case.”

Worcester told the jury that a man named Norris Drake was the real killer. Weirst said Drake’s mother lived across the street from the family, and they had gone to dinner when Jonel disappeared. He said a witness said Drake was leaving his mother’s house when Jonel was alone at home, and did not return until the next morning.

Verst said Drake had a sexual interest in young girls, suggesting that Drake kicked Jonel out of his house – perhaps gaining his trust by saying he was his neighbor’s son and then killing him. ۔ Drake, who died, was never charged with kidnapping or murdering Jonel.

Jonel’s parents and sister took a stand on Wednesday. Jim Mathews described his adopted daughter as an outgoing girl.

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