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Cold Case: Investigators taking a closer look at the murder of Marise Chiverella

The crime happened in 1964.

HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)- It's a murder that shocked the area: a nine-year-old Luzerne County girl kidnapped, raped, and killed on her way to school.

Although it happened 54 years ago, people are still talking about the case. Her killer was never found. Now, the cold case mystery is getting another look.

Marise Chiverella left for school on that fateful morning in 1964 and never returned home. Fast forward to 2018, Hazleton Police Chief Jerry Speziale, who took over command of the police force just about two years ago, wants to take a closer look at the evidence to possibly help find her killer.

You can see where Chiverella was laid to rest in a Hazleton cemetery. Nearby are her parents, who never lived to see their daughter's killer brought to justice.

"The heart break felt by this whole entire community," said Marijo Penkala of Hazleton.

Penkala was the same age as Chiverella when she was murdered.

"It was my first time, in my memory, of being afraid to be alone or unescorted," she said.

The tragic story began the morning of March 18, 1964. Chiverella was walking to the nearby Saint Joseph's School where she was taking canned goods for a food donations. Over the years neighbors say they asked her to come inside to warm up, but she told them she could not stop because she had to get to school with the food. She went on her way and was never seen alive again.

Her body was found in a coal pit about two miles away. She was bound and gagged, and had been raped and strangled.

"You know it's the case that shocked the consciousness of the community," said Speziale.

Speziale heard about the case after taking command of the police force. The state police have been the lead agency in the investigation, but Speziale reached out to them to offer his assistance.

"With today's technology and forensic science and the old evidence that is there is, it's a matter of what we do have and a fresh set of eyes," he said. "Perhaps we would put closure to the case once and for all."

Speziale says the passage of five and a half decades does not diminish the pursuit of justice.

"Whether that person is alive or that person is dead, we have a responsibility to look at it with a fresh set of eyes with today's technology, and maybe we can get some closure for the family," he said.

Speziale has spoken with the state police about the case. Troopers have done extensive work over the years trying to find the killer.

They pursued leads that the killer may have been connected to a church group from the Philadelphia area that had been in Hazleton the night before Chiverella was murdered. A year later, a young girl from that same group was found murdered in the church near Philadelphia.

Eyewitness News spoke to a relative of the Chiverella family. He did not want to speak on camera, but he did say the family has never given up seeking justice for Marise.


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