Thirty-four years after 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews disappeared, the discovery of her remains brings her family comfort and a sense of peace in the midst of a nightmare that’s lasted for so long.
But how do you say goodbye when there are so many questions?
"When you have a child missing, what do you do? What do you do when you have a missing child," said Gloria Matthews, Jonelle's mother. "I keep saying the word overwhelming. And it is overwhelming to find the whole community, that we have friends who never tire of loving us and our family."
The Matthews family on Sunday held a service 34 years in the making -- a "closure celebration" was held in Greeley to put to rest Jonelle's remains.
More than 100 people attended to tell their stories of Jonelle, share memories, and say one final goodbye.
"When Jonelle was missing, this family, Greeley, the community just rallied to us," said Jim Matthews, Jonelle's father. "Sometimes you just don’t experience this love, and the prayers. That was what sustained us through this time."
Jonelle went missing in 1984 when she disappeared from her Greeley home after a choir concert. Her body was not found until earlier this year.
In 1994, the Matthews family held a funeral service for their daughter. 10 years after she disappeared, her body was still missing. Sunday the family gathered in the same church, this time with the knowing where Jonelle's remains were.
"I just want to say thank you family, thank you friends, and thank you Greeley," Gloria said.
Jonelle was adopted by the Matthews' when she was young. Her biological mother joined her adoptive parents to say one final goodbye.
The church joined together to sing Jonelle's favorite lullaby, putting her to rest one more time.
The case remains open and has been since she disappeared in 1984. Greeley Police say there have been several suspects over the years, but no one has ever been charged in her death. They won’t say if they’ve gotten any new suspects or leads since Jonelle’s remains were found.
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