Human remains found in Weld County earlier this week have been identified as missing 12-year-old girl who disappeared in 1984.
A set of human bones was discovered by a work crew just a few days ago at an oil and gas site in rural Weld County, and after an examination by the Weld County Coroner, a positive identification has been made. Deputies and investigators from the Weld County Sheriff's Office, The Weld County Coroner's Office, and the Greeley Police Department responded to the scene.
The skeletal remains found belong to a 12-year-old girl who went missing in Colorado 34 years ago.
Jonelle Matthews, who went missing on December 20, 1984, was a student at Franklin Middle School in Greeley. Jonelle vanished after being dropped off at her home by a friend and her friend's father after a holiday concert, and they were the last ones to have seen her alive.
There were few clues left in her disappearance –the front door was left open, her shoes were near a chair, and her stockings were thrown on the couch – and police have long believed that she was kidnapped, though have no evidence of that nor has a suspect been found.
Despite extensive searching and years of investigating, the case has never been solved. Jonelle would have been 47 years old today had this tragedy not occurred.
Her remains were discovered over 20 miles from her family’s former home, where, back in the 1980s, Weld County was very open and with far less traffic and development than it has now. This lead police to believe her remains have been there for a very long time.
The post by the Greeley Police Department briefly states:
"This case has weighed on the hearts of the Greeley Police Department, the family and the entire city of Greeley."
Jonelle's case got national attention in March 1985, when President Ronald Reagan referenced the case as an example while he announced the founding of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
A reward for information leading to a suspect in the case is still active, and anyone who has information is asked to contact the Greeley Police Tip Line at (970)-351-5100 or call Greeley Detective Robert Cash at (970)-350-9601.
The discovery of Jonelle's remains, hopefully, brings some much-needed closure to her family, who has since relocated from Colorado. With the discovery of the remains comes a renewed hope that a suspect will be found, and perhaps there can still be justice for Jonelle and the life that was taken from her.
We send our deepest sympathies to Matthews family, friends, and community. Please share your sentiments and thoughts on this case in the comments below.