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Crime News Cold Cases

Police Solve 1964 Rape And Murder Of 9-Year-Old Who Vanished While Carrying Church Gifts On Way To School

The body of Marise Ann Chiverella was found in a coal stripping pit about two miles away from her home. 

By Jax Miller
How To Use DNA To Crack A Case

The Pennsylvania State Police have announced they’ve identified the man who killed a 9-year-old child in 1964.

It’s been 57 years since someone raped and killed Marise Ann Chiverella on March 18, 1964, according to the Pennsylvania State Police. Now, thanks to monthly inquiries regarding a DNA profile developed in 2007, authorities say they’ve finally solved the case.

Police told Oxygen.com they would reveal the suspect’s identity during a live press conference at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday.

Sources told The Republican Herald that the suspect was a life-long resident of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and lived just six blocks from where witnesses last saw the girl shortly before her death. They also claimed the suspect moved around frequently and was later charged with a violent assault against a woman who survived the attack.

Marise was on her way to St. Joseph’s School, less than half a mile from her home, when she disappeared, according to the Republican Herald. She was last seen alive at around 8:10 a.m., as she left earlier than usual to deliver canned goods to a nun ahead of a feast day (a Catholic observance) before daily mass and class.

Marise Ann Chiverella Pd

Several neighbors invited Chiverella to warm up in their homes, but she was adamant about bringing the gifts to school, according to CBS affiliate WKBN.

A search began when Chiverella was marked as absent from school and failed to return home for lunch, as she customarily had. At around 1:00 p.m., the child’s body was discovered about two miles away in a coal stripping pit.

An autopsy revealed Chiverella was hit on top of the head and once in the right temple, according to the Herald. Someone had bound the child’s wrists and ankles with her own shoelaces and stuffed her scarf in her mouth. She was sexually assaulted.

Her official cause of death was strangulation. According to Lehigh Valley Live, the canned goods were found near her body.

“You’re thinking of her all the time and what she went through,” Chiverella’s cousin, Jeanette Vayda, told WKBN. “I’m glad they found her body because she had a good burial.”

Chiverella was interred at the Saint Joseph Slovak Roman Catholic Cemetery, where she’s remained for the past 57 years.

Trooper Anthony Petroski, the public information officer for the Pennsylvania State Police, gave an overview of the investigation to Oxygen.com, stating the case was given special attention due to the nature of the crime.

“In 2007, our Pennsylvania State Police DNA Lab developed a suspect profile from the killer’s body fluids, which were found on Marise’s clothing,” the overview stated. “Shortly thereafter, DNA profiles were developed for all the original suspects and submitted to our DNA lab.”

However, the sample yielded no results.

“Since 2007, the killer’s DNA profile has been checked monthly against all new entries in our DNA databases and had not produced a match,” state police continued.

In 2019, police released composites of their suspect and what he might look like at age 25, 40, and 60, with the help of Parabon Snapshot. Parabon Nanolabs uses DNA to create a composite profile, identifying features such as skin type, eye and hair color, and sex, according to their website.

The composite showed a fair-skinned male who likely had green or hazel eyes.

Police interviewed hundreds of people and accumulated more than 4,600 pages of investigative material over the years, according to the Republican Herald. Sources told the daily newspaper that investigators collected DNA from the assailant’s surviving relatives, which helped narrow in on a local suspect.

On Tuesday, police said they finally had their suspect.

“Through investigation, a suspect was developed and identified as the assailant of this brutal crime, solving the 57-year-old cold case.”

More information will be revealed at Thursday’s press conference, police said.

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