A girl who vanished on Dec. 20, 1984, was found by workers digging for a pipeline in Colorado, officials announced.
Jonelle Matthews’ remains were uncovered late July 23 and confirmed to be her by police on Thursday, reported the Greeley Tribune. Oilfield workers digging a pipeline told law enforcement officers they found human remains and testing confirmed the identity of the remains.
Pictures from the site sent to the Tribune showed a human skull next to a hole about the size of a basketball rim while tattered clothing sat on the other side of the hole. A close-up of the lower jaw showed two completely intact rows of teeth that had braces on them.
Asked if police had identified suspects, Sgt. Joseph Tymkowych with the Greeley Police Department said: “We’re still chasing down leads.”
Police announced last year that they were re-opening the cold case.
“Greeley investigators are particularly interested in information concerning the choir activities the night of Dec. 20, 1984, and hearing from individuals who might have interacted with Jonelle in the weeks and days before her disappearance. Greeley police officers also have reason to believe an individual with direct knowledge of Jonelle’s disappearance might have resided in Greeley or the surrounding area at the time, and might still be residing in the community to this day,” the Tribune reported at the time.
“Police think the person likely knew Jonelle and had previously interacted with her. As such, police are asking for the public’s renewed assistance as it advances its investigation. It’s likely the individual with direct knowledge of Jonelle’s disappearance might have exhibited changes in behavior in the days and weeks following her disappearance. It’s also likely these indicators would have been noticed by friends, family or co-workers, even if they didn’t think anything of them at the time.”
Jonelle performed at a Christmas concert in Greeley on the day she disappeared. Archival footage of the concert showed Jonelle wearing clothing colored red and blue and indicated she had braces.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said that she was last seen wearing a red blouse, dark gray sweater vest, charcoal gray skirt, light blue ski jacket, and house slippers. She was seen last at 8:30 p.m. when she was dropped off at her family’s house on 43rd Avenue by her friend’s family.
“She rode home with a friend and the friend’s father, dropped her off at her door,” Sgt. Tymkowych told KDVR last year.
When Jonelle’s parents got home about two hours later, she was gone. The front door was open, and her shoes were by a chair.
Her mother told the broadcaster that the way her daughter vanished still impacted her.
“The toughest time for me is when it gets dark, and then I say oh no, not another night. Then in the morning, you wake up, and you say oh this is not a dream… it’s real,” Jonelle’s mother, Gloria Matthews, said.
The family has not made any public statements since the remains were found.
Jonelle’s mother told 9News in 1994 she thought her girl was kidnapped.
“We’ve never said goodbye to her, and it’s kind of putting a closure to it,” she said. “Because most likely she is dead. Our hearts are torn in wanting to put a closure to it and yet keeping a hope. Somehow this hope, Tuesday night, I think will kind of be buried. That thread of hope, we’ll bury that hope, I think.”