HAZLETON, Pa. — Genetics and genealogy played a big part in solving a brutal cold case in Hazleton, and a college student from New Jersey helped crack it.
On Thursday, Eric Schubert stood alongside state police and Luzerne County officials, announcing they had their man in a 57-year-old cold case murder of Marise Chiverella.
Schubert, 20, is a college student at Elizabethtown College in Lancaster County and found an interest in genetic genealogy at the age of 10.
"I was home sick a lot when I was a kid, so I would see genealogy commercials, and I would say, 'Wait a second, maybe I could do that.' And I thought it would be a two-week thing, but here I am, and I'm certainly thankful I started," Schubert said.
Schubert has done genealogy research for more than 10 years. He's assisted in other cold cases in Chicago and the Philadelphia area over the past two years. He came across the Chiverella case and reached out to state police.
"Just reaching out and saying, 'Hey, I think I know what I'm doing. If I'm not stepping on any toes, I'd be happy to help.' I didn't think that would work. But it did, and I'm very thankful for that because I knew that I could at least potentially get this case a little closer to being solved. And in the end, you know I'm happy we could pull it off," Schubert said.
Schubert was only 18 years old when he was brought onto this case and spent several years searching through family trees, census records, and military records, looking for any piece of evidence that could connect the dots and lead them to the killer. After two years, they finally got a break and a genetic match that would lead them to James Forte.
"I'll never forget when Cpl. Baron was telling me that we had just gotten that match because, in that moment, I knew that we were going to find the assailant. We quickly worked our way up from that match to a match that in the end was over 1,000 centimorgans."
A centimorgan is a unit for measuring genetic linkage.
Schubert says in the ten years he's been doing genealogy research, this was the hardest investigation he's been a part of to date, and this won't likely be the last case he helps solve.