Murder of Marise Chiverella

On March 18, 1964, Marise Ann Chiverella, a 9-year old American girl, was raped and murdered while on her way to school by 22-year old James Paul Forte in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

Murder of Marise Chiverella
Chiverella and Forte.jpeg
Victim Marise Chiverella (left) and murderer James Forte (right)
LocationHazleton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DateMarch 18, 1964; 58 years ago (1964-03-18)
c. 8:10 a.m. EST (murder)
c. 1 p.m. EST (discovery of body)
Attack type
Child murder by strangulation, child rape, kidnapping
VictimMarise Ann Chiverella
PerpetratorJames Paul Forte
MotiveSexual gratification
ArrestsNone; perpetrator died before being identified
InquiriesInvestigation concluded in February 2022 after identification of perpetrator

The murder went unsolved for nearly 58 years, until it was announced by authorities in 2022 that the perpetrator had been identified as James Paul Forte using investigative genetic genealogy. It is believed to be the oldest cold case in Pennsylvania to be solved through this method.


On the morning of March 18, 1964, 9-year old Marise Ann Chiverella left home for school, carrying canned goods to give to her teacher, at St. Joseph's Parochial School in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. At some point while Chiverella was walking to school, she was kidnapped by James Paul Forte. Forte raped and then murdered Chiverella by strangulation.

In the afternoon of the same day, a man was giving his 16-year old nephew driving lessons when they encountered what they initially thought was a "large doll" in a coal-mining pit, but soon realized it was Chiverella's body and called police.[1]


Despite months of nonstop work, authorities were not able to retrieve any initial leads following the murder.

Decades later, in 2018, the authorities teamed up with Parabon NanoLabs, a DNA technology and genetic genealogy company. The following year, the company shared the DNA profile with genealogical databases.[1]

The authorities began to work with genealogist and Elizabethtown College student, then 18-year old Eric Schubert, in 2020. DNA from semen on Chiverella's clothing was uploaded to public genealogy databases, leading to a distant cousin of the perpetrator whom Schubert then identified.

2022 update and identification of perpetratorEdit

On February 12, 2022, authorities announced that with assistance from Schubert's research and Parabon NanoLabs initial work, the perpetrator had been identified as 22-year old James Paul Forte. He lived six or seven blocks from Chiverella, but did not have any known relation to her or her family. An exhumation of Forte's body was approved once he was identified as the prime suspect of the murder.[2][3]


James Paul Forte (July 21, 1941 – May 16, 1980)[4] was a bartender and bar supplies salesman from the Hazleton area. He was born in Hazleton and lived in the town his entire life. He was never married and never had any known children. Forte was arrested in 1974 in an unrelated case on charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and sexual assault. Forte was given a plea deal for the less serious conviction of aggravated assault and was sentenced to one year probation. He was arrested again in 1978 on charges of reckless endangerment and harassment. He died in 1980 from a reported heart attack at the bar where he worked at the age of 38.[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Peiser, Jaclyn (February 14, 2022). "A young girl's murder went unsolved for nearly 58 years. A 20-year-old college student helped crack the case". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on February 14, 2022. Retrieved February 21, 2022.
  2. ^ Jackson, Amanda (February 13, 2022). "Nearly 58 years later, police solve cold case murder of 9-year-old Pennsylvania girl". CNN. Archived from the original on February 15, 2022. Retrieved February 21, 2022.
  3. ^ Holpuch, Amanda (February 12, 2022). "After Nearly 58 Years, Pennsylvania Police Solve Killing of 9-Year-Old Girl". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 14, 2022. Retrieved February 21, 2022.
  4. ^ "James Paul Forte - FindAGrave". Find a Grave.
  5. ^ "How a genealogist helped solve the murder of a girl from nearly 60 years ago". CBC Radio. February 14, 2021. Archived from the original on February 20, 2022. Retrieved February 21, 2022.