Jennifer Matthews: Where is Jonelle Matthews’ Sister Now?

Jennifer Matthews was a young teenager when her sister, Jonelle, disappeared from their home, never to return. Of course, the trauma of losing a sister and seeing her parents in agony and hopelessness was extremely tough for her to bear. Yet, Jennifer stayed strong in the face of adversaries and never gave up hope for her sister’s safe return.

But alas, Jonelle’s body was discovered almost 35 years later, and Jennifer and her parents got the closure that they long deserved. ’48 Hours: The Kidnapping of Jonelle Matthews’ chronicles this disappearance and the family’s agony in the following years. Yet, for now, let us find out more about her sister, Jennifer, and where she is today, shall we?

Who Is Jennifer Matthews?

Jennifer was a mere teenager and a high school student when Jonelle vanished. At the time, she loved playing basketball and was at her basketball game with her father on the day of the tragedy. When talking about her sister, Jennifer describes Jonelle as a spunky girl whose originality and boldness was hard to forget. Jennifer also mentioned that her sister’s extroverted personality gave way to standard sibling rivalry, wherein the sisters often fought over clothes, chores, and other things. According to her, Jonelle was also kind, strong, and fiercely independent.

Image Credit: KUSA

Jennifer adored her sister and said that she still remembers the day her family adopted Jonelle and that she had herself walked into the nursery and picked her up. On the day of the disappearance, Jennifer was the second person who discovered Jonelle missing. Once the family was swamped by police and the media, she did her part and helped wherever she could with the investigation. By the summer of 1985, her parents backed away from the search and tried to make Jennifer’s life as normal as possible. Yet, the girl never forgot her sister and, after Jonelle’s remains were discovered, she rushed to be at her parents’ side to help them identify the killer.

Jennifer Matthews is Moving Forward in Life Today

Jennifer Matthews claimed that her sister’s disappearance, naturally, changed her. She now frequently expresses love to her family and friends because she never knows if she may ever get another chance. Ever since her sister’s death, she lives by the words, “Love not expressed is love unknown,” and said that Jonelle’s death reminded her to always express the love she has for those around her.

Jennifer is now married, a mother herself, and apparently resides in Washington. When Jonelle’s body was discovered, she immediately arrived in Greeley to be with her parents and help arrange Jonelle’s burial and a community celebration for her sister’s life. She said that the discovery of her sister’s remains has given her and her family closure but hoped that the killer is still alive and can be tracked down by DNA technology that investigators did have access to during Jonelle’s disappearance. However, true closure only came once Steven Pankey, a total stranger to them, was sentenced to a life term in connection to this matter in 2022.

“This closure, this verdict, and just going home knowing that when we leave Greeley, a big part of our life, our big part of our story, has a conclusion … that just feels really good,” Jennifer said. “[We finally have] some comfort in knowing and having answers. It’s the not having answers where your mind can just go to places that could drive you crazy … having closure like this is priceless…I am grateful for earthly justice. But if [conviction and sentencing] did not happen for our family, I could rest and be at peace knowing that he would have to answer [to God] someday. From what we can tell, Jennifer is content with her life at the moment, all the while doing her best to move on from the past and still keeping Jonelle alive in her heart.

Read More: Where is Steve Pankey Now?