The remains of a 12-year-old girl who disappeared in 1984 after performing at a Christmas holiday concert have been found by construction workers in Weld County.
Greeley Colorado police Sgt. Joe Tymkovich said the remains were identified as those of Jonelle Matthews, who was last seen being dropped off at her home by a friend and a friend’s father, The Greeley Tribune reported .
No one was ever arrested following her disappearance on Dec. 20, 1984. Matthews had performed with a middle school honor choir shortly before she disappeared, authorities said.
Police said after the concert, Matthews got a ride home. She was last seen entering her residence, 320 43rd Ave. Court, around 8 p.m.
“She rode home with a friend and the friend’s father, dropped her off at her door,” Sgt. Joseph Tymkowych with the Greeley Police Department said.
But when Matthews’ parents got home at 10 p.m., the family told police they found the front door open, and her shoes by a chair and her stockings thrown over the couch.
The Tribune reported that workers were constructing a new pipeline in rural Weld County when they discovered bones last week. Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams said his deputies were treating the recovery of the remains as a homicide investigation.
Mogensen lives outside of Colorado and her parents live outside of the country. She told one new station they’d all be back in the state soon for a memorial for Matthews.
Forensic experts say the discovery could open up new leads in the search for a suspect.
“If there’s clothing or other objects that might have the DNA of other people, it’s possible,” said Melissa Connor, a forensic investigator at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.
“DNA is getting better every day. They’re able to work with smaller and smaller pieces of DNA,” she said.
Connor says determining a cause of death will be possible if there’s traumatic injury, like a gunshot.
“If there was physical harm to the individual at, or about the time of death that impacted the bone, that will show,” she said.
The investigation remains active. If you have any information about this case please contact your local police department.