20-Year-Old College Student and Genealogy Expert Helps Crack 58-Year-Old Cold Case in Pennsylvania

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The fourth oldest cold case in Luzerne Country has been solved nearly 60 years later. 

Marise Chiverella was 9 years old when she was kidnapped on her way to school in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, in March of 1964.

She was raped and strangled, and her body was found later that day.

“This was a violent and a heinous crime that was committed against a small child,” Corporal Mark Baron from the Pennsylvania State Police said. “We’re always told not to get attached to a case, but, uh, you can’t help it.”

Helping to crack the cold case was 20-year-old college student Eric Schubert, who, on a whim, reached out to volunteer his expertise. 

Schubert found his passion for genealogy at age 10. He has since helped other police departments solve cold cases for the last two years.

“It really was a multifaceted investigation that left absolutely no stone unturned,” Schubert said.

Using new genealogy technology, investigators identified Marise’s killer as a bartender named James Paul Forte, who died of natural causes in 1980. 

His body was exhumed from the cemetery where he was buried, and detectives say his DNA matched the DNA found on Marise’s jacket.

Forte had a violent sexual assault record and had no connection to the little girl or her family. 

“So how does our family further embrace a sense of closure for the harm done to Marise?” Carmen-Marie Chiverella, Marise’s Sister, said.

“Our parents expressed their sentiments a long time ago. They didn’t want punishment or revenge. They wanted justice.”

And now, 58 years later, there are answers. 

“Even though it took nearly 58 years for this case to be solved,” Col. Mark Baron, the lead investigator on the case, said, “I think that this should instill in the families and victims across the state and across the country a sense of hope.”