20-Year-Old Student Helps Police Crack 57-Year Cold Case Murder

Good Morning America via YouTube

After nearly 60 years of trying to find the killer of a 9-year-old girl, police have finally solved the case, thanks to the help of a young 20-year-old student.

In 1964, a 9-year-old girl named Marise Ann Chiverella was snatched up while walking to St. Joseph’s Parochial School in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. It was later determined she was raped and murdered.

Ever since then, Pennsylvania State Police have been working to try and determine who it was that killed Marise that fateful day. And 57 years later, they finally cracked the case.

The perpetrator was James Paul Forte, who, at the time was 22 years old, and lived just six or seven blocks from Marise. Forte was 38 when he died in 1980. However, knowing who was responsible for Marise’s death gives her family the closure they’ve been longing for.

While there isn’t a clear connection between he and her or her family, investigators were able to use DNA tests and genealogical research to determine him as the murderer. This was in part thanks to Eric Schubert, a young genealogist, who approached the police in 2020 himself to see if he can do anything to help.

In 2007, investigators were able to create a DNA profile of the suspect using body fluids that were found on Marise’s jacket. In 2019, Parabon NanoLabs, a DNA technology company, helped to create a DNA profile to a genealogical database that was helpful in finding a match with a distant relative of the suspect.

At just 18 years old, Schubert, now 20, worked for two years to identify possible relative suspects using this DNA match. He built out a family tree, eventually narrowing it down to four potential suspects after interviewers and DNA samples. And finally, a DNA sample was taken from Forte’s body, which confirmed the match.

The police announced the closed case during a recent news conference where Marise’s four siblings and extended family sat, along with current and retired investigators of the case.

“Pennsylvania State Police was founded in 1905, so over half of our existence we’ve investigated this case,” Lt. Devon M. Brutosky said at the news conference.

As far as Marise’s family, they are thrilled to have some closure. “We have so many precious memories of Marise. At the same time, our family will always feel the emptiness and sorrow of her absence,” said her sister, Carmen Marie Radtke. “We will continue to ask ourselves, what would have been, what could have been?”

While Marise’s parents are now deceased, Radtke said that they never sought revenge, they just wanted justice. Finally, it’s come—57 years later!

To hear more about this incredible case and from the young man who helped solve it, check out the video below.

Have you followed this case over the years? Can you believe it was finally solved after nearly six decades?