The long-unsolved case of a 9-year-old child from Hazleton, Pennsylvania, finally cracked after decades of darkness, casting light on a horrific chapter in history.
Marise Chiverella’s life was tragically cut short on March 18, 1964, and the Pennsylvania State Police recently stated that they had successfully identified her perpetrator. The young girl’s lifeless body was discovered near the Hazleton Municipal Airport in a stripped hole, which has haunted the region for over six decades.
The case made a breakthrough in 2007 when officials extracted the perpetrator’s DNA profile from the fluid left on the victim’s clothing.
CNN reported that the Pennsylvania State Police identified James Paul Forte, who died in 1980, as the murderer responsible for this horrible crime during a historic press conference.
Lieutenant Devon Brutosky of the Pennsylvania State Police emphasized the significance of this accomplishment, saying, “For over half of our existence since the establishment of the Pennsylvania State Police in 1905, we have relentlessly pursued justice in this case.”
The police’s perseverance and determination in solving this cold case demonstrate their everlasting commitment to delivering closure to victims and their families.
According to an official press release that PEOPLE obtained, Marise Chiverella vanished on that fateful day after leaving her Hazleton home at 8 a.m. to go to school.
Her deceased body was discovered in the stripper hole at 1 p.m., and authorities swiftly determined that she was a victim of both physical and intimate assault.
The disturbing details of the inquiry, as stated in the police news release, indicate the dreadful fate that befell young Marise, whose life was cruelly ripped from her, her body dumped along with her clothing and personal things.
The breakthrough in the case happened in 2007, a watershed moment in the inquiry. Using modern DNA testing, authorities could identify the killer by examining the fluid found on the victim’s clothing.
This scientific achievement was a big step forward in Marise Chiverella’s pursuit of justice. Following that, the police painstakingly cross-referenced the murderer’s DNA profile with the entries in the DNA database every month, providing a ray of hope that justice would be served one day.
CNN’s Brutosky reported in 2019 that the DNA profile had been added to the GED Match genealogy database. Surprisingly, a distant relative of Chiverella appeared as a genealogical match, promising a breakthrough in the case. The study gained traction in 2020, thanks to the assistance of renowned genealogist Eric Schubert.
According to the police news release, “Mr. Schubert embarked on an exhaustive journey through the family tree of our genealogical match, unearthing a network of relatives scattered across the country.”
This breakthrough prompted the collaboration of the related family, who submitted crucial DNA samples to assist the study.
After putting the facts and family links together, it was discovered that James Paul Forte, who was 22 at the time of the murder, could be Chiverella’s sixth cousin. The news shocked both the family and the community as a whole.
Marise’s sister, Carmen Marie Radtke, expressed satisfaction and a sense of justice being served, noting, “Our family finally has the answers we have long sought.” Today, justice has triumphed, offering us a sense of closure we have sought for decades.”
The identification of James Paul Forte as the murderer of Marise Chiverella closes a chilling chapter in Hazleton’s history. It is a credit to the Pennsylvania State Police’s tireless work and steadfast dedication to solving even the most difficult cold cases.
As the community heals from this horrific tragedy, we hope this conclusion gives peace to the family and reminds them that justice can win, no matter how long it takes.