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I-Team: What happened to Marise Chiverella? State police seek DNA match

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HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Can the killer of a nine-year-old girl be arrested 57 years after the murder? State troopers say the answer is yes.

Marise Chiverella from Hazleton was kidnapped and murdered in 1964. Despite all those years, investigators say they are not giving up on the search for the killer.

The brutal murder of Marise Chiverella still haunts many people in Hazleton. Growing up in Hazleton, everyone had heard about the murder and some believe the murder, in some ways, marred the innocence of the city.

Marise was laid to rest in a Hazleton cemetery in 1964. Her parents were buried nearby, never having lived to see their daughter’s killer brought to justice.

The tragic story began on West Fourth Street on the morning of March 18 of 1964. It was a very cold morning.

Marise was walking to the nearby St. Joseph’s school. She was taking canned goods for a food donation. Over the years, neighbors told the I-Team that they asked her to come inside because the little girl looked very cold.

But she told them she had to get to school with the food. She was never seen alive again.

Later that day her body was found in a coal pit about two miles away. She had been bound and gagged. Detectives say she had been raped and strangled.

“It was a horrible, horrible tragedy. I’m just hoping it can be solved. It’s a terrible tragedy and it affected everyone,” said Hazleton City Councilman Jack Mundie.

Mundie was seven years old at the time and says Marise’s murder was always in the back of his mind growing up.

“I remember my parents aunts and uncles talking about it at the table and I remember them being very scared about sending kids to school,” Mundie said.

In 2019 the state police unveiled images of a possible suspect at ages 25, 40 and 60. It is based on DNA technology used on evidence from the crime scene as well as bodily fluids found on Marise’s clothing to come up with a physical profile of the suspect. Now, this profile is now updated.

“The DNA that was developed by the Pennsylvania State Police lab was limited to a certain amount of chromosomes but in 2020 it was learned that additional chromosomes could be discovered to form a DNA strand. The killer’s profile is currently at the Pennsylvania State Police lab and we’re awaiting results shortly,” said Trooper Anthony Petroski.

Troopers say they are not giving up on finding the killer.

“We received many tips, many tips as far away as California. Our investigators have followed up on every single tip since our release in 2019 of the new phenotype profiles,” said Petroski.

The I-Team spoke with Ron Chiverella, the brother of Marise Chiverella who told us,

“The family is very appreciative of the ongoing efforts and vigilance of the Pennsylvania State Police. Our family is not driven by anger or hatred, our goal is to have closure and justice for Marise.”

Ron Chiverella

For years, investigators were looking into the possibility that Marise was kidnapped by someone who was in Hazleton attending a basketball game at St. Joseph’s Gymnasium the night before, but that lead did not bring any breaks.

They were looking at a young man who was in a wooded area near the coal pit where the body was found who thought he saw the killer leaving the area. But investigators said that young man had some psychological challenges that made them question some of his information about what he saw that day.

If you have any information about the Chiverella case or any of the cold cases featured this week by the I-Team, call your state or local police.

If you have a news tip you’d like the I-Team to look into, call the I-Team hotline at 570-706-7428 or click here.

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