The remains of a 12-year-old Colorado girl, whose 1984 disappearance drew national attention when then-President Ronald Reagan appealed for help in her case, have finally been discovered.
Workers digging for a pipeline found the remains of Jonelle Matthews of Greeley, Colorado this week, The Washington Post is reporting. The seventh grader went missing from her house on December 30, 1984.
Reagan, in March 1985, asked a group of editors to "enlist your newspapers in this mission of mercy" to help find abducted children through stories and photos.
He singled out Jonelle's case and noted she "would have celebrated a happy 13th birthday with her family just last month."
After years of searching for her, the Matthews family declared Jonelle dead in 1994, but they still hoped for clarity as police continued to follow dead end leads in the case.
Now, the discovery of her remains just south of Greeley has brought long-awaited relief, the Post reported.
"I'm grateful for this closure after 34 years," Jonelle's sister Jennifer told the Post. "It does bring up some old wounds and some more questions, maybe, of what happened. But we've received so much love and support already."
Jonelle's childhood friend Shelly Lobato told CBS 4 in Denver about her heartbreak at hearing the news the remains had been identified as Jonelle's.
"My heart sank," she said. "It brought tears to my eyes. I felt really bad for her family."
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