Kayleah Wilson case: Search evokes 25-year-old dashed hopes
Mike Peters / The GreeleyTibune / April 2, 2010
As days go by and the disappearance of 12-year-old Kayleah Wilson continues to be a mystery, it brings back haunting memories for the police officers involved in another child disappearance in Greeley 25 years ago.
On Dec. 20, 1984, Jonelle Matthews, a 12-year-old middle school student, disappeared from her west Greeley home. She has never been found.
The search for Jonelle became a national story. Numerous ground searches were organized to look for her, and her parents, Jim and Gloria Matthews, appeared on national television to plead for Jonelle's return. President Reagan mentioned Jonelle in his State of the Union speech.
While there is no connection to Wilson's disappearance, the ages of the girls and the mysterious circumstances remind police of what happened 25 years ago.
“There, of course, are similarities between the cases, primarily because of the ages of the girls,” said police spokesman Sgt. Joe Tymkowych. “Because of that, the case has crossed our minds in the past few days.”
In the early days of the Matthews investigation, police learned that Jonelle was brought home that night by family friends. She sang in the Franklin Middle School choir, which had performed Christmas carols at a nursing home.
Because of all family activities that night, Jonelle knew the house would be empty. Her father, an elementary school principal, was at Jonelle's older sister's basketball game, and her mother was visiting relatives out of the state.
Police determined Jonelle arrived home and went to the family room in the basement, where she set up a space heater to keep warm and sat on the floor to watch TV.
When her father came home about an hour later, he found the space heater and her shoes on the floor, but Jonelle was gone. Police were called and a search was launched, but she was never found. Police found scuffmarks and footprints in the snow outside the house.
HELP FIND THE MISSING. HELP FIND JONELLE MATTHEWS