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'This is Marise's story' - Family, investigators share emotions as Hazleton cold case is solved

After 57 years, the man who committed the crimes has been identified. Troopers and family member shared their emotions and hope for closure.

HAZLETON, Pa. — Flowers lie on a tiny grave in Hazleton's St. Joseph Slovak Roman Catholic Cemetery. It's the gravesite of Marise Chiverella, a 9-year-old who was raped and murdered in March of 1964.

After 57 years, the man who committed the crimes has been identified.

"Now that we know the individual, it gives us a sense of closure," said Marise's brother Ronald Chiverella. "No full closure; we'll never have that, but a sense of closure that we know the individual that did it and that the individual isn't out committing the same crime and hurting other young girls like Marise."

During a news conference on Thursday, state police identified James Forte as the man who kidnapped Marise off the street while she was walking to school.

Investigators say Forte was 22 years old when he sexually assaulted and killed Marise, dumping her body in a strip mine pit in Hazle Township hours after she went missing.

Investigators used DNA profiles and genetic genealogy that eventually led them to Forte.

"We're always told not to get attached to a case, but you can't help it," said Cpl. Mark Baron. "This is Marise's story, and what happened to her ushered in a change to this community. Whether you like it or not, the way you lived changed after March 18, 1964, in Hazleton."

Marise was 9 years old when she died, and her family tells Newswatch 16 they never lost hope of finding who killed her.

"Given the persistence of the Pennsylvania State Police, my sense was always somehow, someway there going to find the person," Chiverella said.

Forte died in 1980 of natural causes, so he won't face prosecution, but police hope this still brings some justice.

"This has been a day that this family had been waiting for nearly 58 years," Cpl. Baron said. "Even though we couldn't bring charges against Mr. Forte, I hope that this brings some type of closure for your family. I really do."

See the timeline of how the case was solved in the video below.

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