• Rod Kackley

The Murder of Jonelle Matthews: A Cold Case Homicide

We begin with another of those heartbreaking shocking true crime stories about a child missing and murdered. However, like many similar stories, the story of Jonelle Matthews is bittersweet. Although her death was tragic, it appears the man who killed her has been captured.

On December 20, 1984, twelve-year-old Jonelle Matthews went missing from her parents' home in Greeley, Colorado. There was no sign of the child until her body was dug up from a field in Weld County on July 24, 2019.

An autopsy showed she had been killed by a gunshot wound to the head.

Now in October 2020, Weld County Sheriff's Office investigators think they've found the person who kidnapped and murdered Jonelle. He's a man who loved to watch children walk home from the middle school that Jonelle attended.

A grand jury indicted Steve Pankey, a sixty-nine-year-old former Constitution Party candidate for governor in Idaho, October 9.

He faces charges of first-degree murder after deliberation, felony murder in the first-degree, second-degree kidnapping, and two counts of a crime of violence.

Pankey lived in Greeley with his then-wife at the time Jonelle went missing. He went to the same church as Jonelle's family. Spooky, right?

And get this.

According to the indictment, he "inserted himself into the investigation many times over the years, claiming to have knowledge of the crime which became inconsistent and incriminating over time."

Jonelle's body was discovered in a field about ten miles from the house that Pankey called home in the 1980s.

Now, Pankey claims he is innocent and wasn't in Greeley when Jonelle vanished. Pankey says he was in California on December 21, 1984, the morning after the girl was abducted.

"I am being transparent. I am not running from this," Pankey told the Idaho Statesman in August. "I am more than eager to answer any questions under oath."

Did He Kill Kevin Bacon?

Now, an update on a shocking true crime story we've been following since it broke earlier this year...

A judge rules there is nothing wrong with a Michigan man even if he stripped Kevin Bacon (not that Kevin Bacon) naked. Then, allegedly, hung him from the ceiling, cut off his testicles, fried them up on the stove, and ate them for dinner.

At least there is nothing wrong with Mark Latunski that would prevent him from standing trial on charges of murder and mutilation of a body.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for October 23.

Police say Latunski confessed to everything when they found Kevin's body hanging from the ceiling in Latunski's home.

Oh. This is only one legal challenge faced by the accused cannibalistic killer.

Another guy who met Latunski online, just like Kevin did, says he only escaped by running naked from the house of horrors and banging on a neighbor's front door pleading for help.

Now, James Carlsen, who rode a bus from New York to Michigan for an evening of fun-filled BDSM sex, has filed suit against Latunski.

Carlsen is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.

"Mark Latunski must answer for the heinous acts committed against our client," attorney Kirstina Magyari, with Marko Law, told the Detroit Free Press. "Mr. Carlsen deserves justice for the trauma he endured, an experience that will haunt him for the rest of his life."

Murder by Consent? How can that be possible?

This is not the first time we've covered a shocking true crime story where the victim was put on trial along with the murder suspect. The Murder of Grace Millane comes to mind. Here's a new spin on implicating the homicide victim from Japan...

Takahiro Shiraishi says he did everything he's accused of doing. Yes, he used social media to meet women before raping them and then killing them. He didn't deny any of it during a trial in Japan.

Shiraishi says he raped and strangled eight women.

But, here's the kicker: Shiraishi says he only went after women who had had suicidal thoughts, women who wanted to die. And his lawyers argue their client should get less time in prison than your typical murderer. Why? Because he only helped the women accomplish what they wanted but were afraid to do on their own.

"I want to help people who are really in pain. Please DM [direct message] me anytime," his Twitter profile read.

Shiraishi says he even promised some of the women that he would kill himself alongside them. Obviously, he went back on his word, there.

If his lawyers are successful, Shiraishi's murder charges would be reduced to lesser charges of "Murder with Consent." The result would be a much shorter time in prison.

Police say, Shiraishi, after killing the women, then cut their bodies into pieces. He stored the remains in cooling boxes found in his apartment.

The killing ended when the brother of one of the dead women found an exchange of Twitter messages between Shiraishi and his sister.

Rather than taking on Shiraishi himself, the man called the police.

By the way, this killing spree claimed the life of one man.

No, the guy didn't want to commit suicide. Unlike the brother of one of the victims, he did not call for help. Instead, he confronted Shiraishi when he discovered a stream of social media messages that led him to the murderer. Police say the men fought. Shiraishi won.

But ultimately, Shiraishi lost. He is going to prison for killing eight women and one man. The only question is for how long.

Want more True Crime, Crime Fiction, and Paranormal Mystery books and stories? They are always available in Rod Kackley's Crime Stories Bookstore, at Amazon, and wherever you buy books.

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