Teen Helps Solve 57-Year-Old Cold Case Murder Of Little Girl

Joe Harker

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Teen Helps Solve 57-Year-Old Cold Case Murder Of Little Girl

Featured Image Credit: @ESGenealogy/Twitter/Pennsylvania State Police

The murder of a little girl in Pennsylvania has finally been solved with help from a teen genealogist who helped police crack the 57-year-old cold case.

Nine-year-old Marise Chiverella's murder on 18 March 1964 went unsolved for 57 years until advances in DNA and genealogical tracking produced a breakthrough.

Chiverella's body was found in a coal mining pit on the same day of her murder by a man giving his nephew driving lessons, but police were unable to find out who had raped and murdered the little girl and nobody was ever arrested in connection with the horrendous crime.

Nine-year-old Marise Chiverella was murdered decades ago and nobody was ever arrested. Credit: Pennsylvania State Police
Nine-year-old Marise Chiverella was murdered decades ago and nobody was ever arrested. Credit: Pennsylvania State Police

The case had been cold until 2007 where, according to The Sun, Pennsylvania's state DNA lab was able to develop a profile of the suspect from semen left on Chiverella's jacket.

Unfortunately, the DNA result produced no matches at the time and it looked as though investigators had hit another dead end.

However, in 2019 the DNA profile of the murderer was uploaded to a state of the art genealogical database after authorities were able to get a match to a distant relative.

A year later the then 18-year-old history major Eric Schubert contacted the police offering to help track down the suspect free of charge with skills gained from his hobby of genealogical research.

While Schubert had mostly used his hobby to help people work out their family trees, he also had previous experience helping law enforcement track down potential suspects.

Thanks to help from Eric Schubert the killer was identified as James Paul Forte, a distant cousin of the victim. Credit: Pennsylvania State Police
Thanks to help from Eric Schubert the killer was identified as James Paul Forte, a distant cousin of the victim. Credit: Pennsylvania State Police

According to People, Schubert spent hours each week for 18 months helping the police chase down leads and was eventually able to identify the murderer as local bartender James Forte, who died of natural causes in 1980 aged 38.

Forte had a criminal record but was not previously considered a suspect, though the evidence Schubert helped gather was compelling enough for a judge to order that his body be exhumed and tested.

A DNA sample was positively matched with Forte, with Schubert saying 'the odds of the DNA not being his were one in something septillion'.

Pennsylvania State Police praised Schubert for his efforts in identifying the guilty party and cracking a 57-year-old cold case, with corporal Mark Baron praising him for his 'top notch' skills and dedication to helping them find the murderer.

Schubert said he was 'relieved for the family' after identifying the killer, with Chiverella's older brother Ron thanking him and state police for finding the murderer after decades of investigation.

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Topics: News, Police, US News, Crime

Joe Harker
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