HAZLETON, Pa. (AP) — DNA and a 20-year-old genealogy expert helped state police identify the man who abducted, raped and murdered a young girl in a case that rocked a mining town in Pennsylvania nearly six decades ago, officials said Thursday. .
State police exhumed the body of the long-dead assailant last month and said his DNA precisely matched DNA left on the jacket of victim Marise Ann Chiverella, 9, who was abducted on the morning of March 18, 1964, as she walked. at school in Hazleton, about 129 miles north of Philadelphia.
His body was found this afternoon in a nearby coal pit. Authorities say she was raped and strangled.
Police identified his killer as James Paul Forte, a bartender with a record of violent sexual assault, who died of natural causes in 1980 aged 38. Police said Forte, who was 22 at the time of the murder, had no known connection to the little girl or her family.
Generations of State Police investigators have pursued Marise’s killer — more than 230 department members have been involved in the investigation at one time or another — but Forte’s name only came to light in 2020.
By then, new DNA technology had established a distant family connection to Forte, and Eric Schubert, a student and genetic genealogy expert who had volunteered to work on the case, gathered a tree extensive genealogy that helped investigators narrow down their list of suspects.
State Police made the announcement during a press conference packed with current and retired investigators — including the soldier who first investigated Marise’s murder — and the four siblings of the little girl and her extended family.
Her siblings called Marise a sweet, shy girl who was learning to play the organ and aspired to be a nun.
“We have so many precious memories of Marise. At the same time, our family will always feel the emptiness and sorrow of his absence,” said his sister, Carmen Marie Radtke. “We’re going to keep asking, what would have been, what could have been?”
She said their deceased parents never sought revenge, but justice.
“Thanks to the Pennsylvania State Police, justice was served today,” she said.
Thanks also to Schubert.
A history student at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania and owner of ES Genealogy, Schubert developed an interest in the discipline as a young boy and helped other police departments solve their cold cases using genetic genealogy, which combines the use of DNA testing in traditional genealogical research. .
He was looking for a new case to work on when he came across Marise’s story and offered his services to the normally insular Pennsylvania State Police. He was pleasantly surprised when they agreed and spent the next two years on the case, working side by side with investigators.
“The investigation that led to all this work was probably the most difficult genealogical task I have ever faced. It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life,” he said. “And that means so much to me that I got to be part of the team that could bring answers to the Chiverella family.”
At some point he said, “I knew we were going to find the attacker.
State Police Corporal. Mark Baron, the lead investigator, said it was the fourth oldest cold case in the United States to be solved using genetic genealogy, and the oldest in Pennsylvania.
Baron, who choked up as he spoke, called it an important day for Marise’s family and for a community that has long been haunted by her murder.
“It’s a living memory for anyone who’s been through this, and it’s a living memory for anyone who grew up in this area,” he said. “What happened to him caused a change in this community. Whether you like it or not, the way you lived changed after March 18, 1964 in Hazleton.
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