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Pro-life Republican charged in cold-case murder

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Steve Pankey

A failed Idaho gubernatorial candidate was charged in the 1984 murder of a 12-year-old girl.

Steve Pankey, a 2014 Constitution Party candidate for governor who also ran in the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary in 2018, was taken into custody Monday on two first-degree murder charges, two violent crime charges and one second-degree kidnapping charge, reported KTVB-TV.

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The perennial candidate became a suspect last year in the disappearance of Jonelle Matthews after her body was discovered at an oil and gas site home in Weld County, Colorado.

The girl disappeared after returning home from performing a church school choir concert on Dec. 20, 1984, and prosecutors said Pankey had taken Jonelle against her will from her family’s house a short time later and then shot her through the forehead during the kidnapping.

The 69-year-old Pankey, who promised during his 2018 campaign to “defund abortion” from the state budget and “return Idaho to the God of the Bible and Constitutional principles,” lived about two miles from the Matthews home and had attended the same church as them around 1978.

He had claimed during a newspaper interview last year that he was home with his then-wife and son, getting ready to drive to California for Christmas, and said he did not learn of the girl’s disappearance until returning home six days later.

But his ex-wife told investigators that the family trip came two days later and was unexpected, and she said Pankey uncharacteristically listened to the radio for news of her disappearance and forced her to read newspaper stories about Jonelle.

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Weld County Colorado District Attorney Michael Rourke said Pankey had become a central suspect in the long-cold case in the past two years, mostly because he knew so much about it, including the non-publicized use of a rake to cover up footprints in the snow.

Pankey also repeatedly inserted himself into the investigation, such as making court filings related to the case and suggesting terms for a deal in exchange for information about the case.

His ex-wife also recalled an odd statement Pankey made in 2008, at the funeral for his son, who had been murdered.

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“I hope God didn’t allow this to happen because of Jonelle Matthews,” Pankey said, according to the indictment.


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Moon may be richer in water than thought — and it could help propel humans farther from earth

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There may be far more water on the Moon than previously thought, according to two studies published Monday raising the tantalising prospect that astronauts on future space missions could find refreshment -- and maybe even fuel -- on the lunar surface.

The Moon was believed to be bone dry until around a decade ago when a series of findings suggested that our nearest celestial neighbour has traces of water trapped in the surface.

Two new studies published in Nature Astronomy on Monday suggest there could be much more water than previously thought, including ice stored in permanently shadowed "cold traps" at lunar polar regions.

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Asymptomatic coronaagvirus sufferers lose antibodies sooner: study

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Asymptomatic coronavirus sufferers appear to lose detectable antibodies sooner than people who have exhibited Covid-19 symptoms, according to one of the biggest studies of its kind in Britain published on Tuesday.

The findings by Imperial College London and market research firm Ipsos Mori also suggest the loss of antibodies was slower in 18–24 year-olds compared to those aged 75 and over.

Overall, samples from hundreds of thousands of people across England between mid-June and late September showed the prevalence of virus antibodies fell by more than a quarter.

The research, commissioned by the British government and published Tuesday by Imperial, indicates people's immune response to Covid-19 reduces over time following infection.

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2020 Election

Early voting to be hit by heavy rain and flooding as Hurricane Zeta barrels towards the Gulf Coast

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Hurricane Zeta is expected to make landfall near Louisiana's border with Mississippi on Wednesday evening as campaigns work to get supporters to the polls and convince any undecided voters to back their candidate.

"Hurricane conditions and life-threatening storm surge are possible along portions of the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, and Storm Surge and Hurricane Watches are in effect," the National Hurricane Center warned.

"Between Tuesday night and Thursday, heavy rainfall is expected from portions of the central Gulf Coast into the southern Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic states near and in advance of Zeta. This rainfall will lead to flash, urban, small stream, and minor river flooding," the center explained.

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