Pipeline Workers Find Remains of Missing Girl

(P&GJ) — Pipeline workers in Weld County Colorado discovered the remains of a girl who went missing in 1984.

Shortly before 5 P.M. on Tuesday, a group of pipeline workers digging near Greeley Colorado in Weld County contacted law enforcement to report they had discovered what appeared to be human remains. The Weld County Sheriff’s Office, Weld County Coroner’s Office, Greeley police and Weld District Attorney’s Office all responded to the scene.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Greeley Tribune, who initially reported the discovery, received two anonymous pictures of the site showing a human skull, tattered clothing, and a lower jaw with all the teeth still intact.

On Thursday morning, Greeley Police announced the remains are those of Jonelle Matthews, bringing closure to a story that has impacted the local community for over 30 years.

Jonelle Matthews was 12 years old when she disappeared on Dec. 20, 1984 after performing in a Christmas choir concert at her middle school. She was last seen later that evening when she was dropped off at home.

Community reaction

Her disappearance rocked the small-town community with a lasting impact still felt 34 years later. Evan Sitchler who grew up in Greeley said to the Tribune, “She was exactly my age and when she disappeared, everyone was on edge. I don’t think we ever got over it.”

He also said that at the time, missing children were being reported far too often.

Stories about missing kids was something you were seeing all the time in the media back then,” Sitchler said. “That was such a scary thing. We were scared all of the time for a long time after that (Matthews’ disappearance).

National impact

The story of Jonelle Matthews went far beyond Greeley and Weld County all the way to the Nation’s highest office, President Ronald Reagan. Her story, and many others, prompted President Reagan and lawmakers of the time to found the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The President mentioned Matthews in his speech announcing the center.


You can read more about the story and follow further developments at greeleytribune.com

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