True Crime News Roundup: 1964 Cold Case Rape And Murder Of 9-Year-Old Girl Solved, Police Say

Plus: Navarro Cheer star accepts plea deal; and Parkland killer claims he has multiple personalities.

February 11, 2022
Marise Ann Chivarella portrait in black and white

Marise Ann Chivarella

Photo by: Pennsyvlania State Police

Pennsyvlania State Police

Marise Ann Chivarella

By: Aaron Rasmussen

Police say they’ve cracked the 1964 cold case murder of a little girl in Pennsylvania.

Investigators used genetic genealogy to identify a suspect in the rape and murder of 9-year-old Marise Ann Chiverella in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, on March 18, 1964.

At a Feb. 10 news conference, law enforcement officials named Chiverella’s killer as James Paul Forte, a bartender who died at age 38 in May 1980 from a possible heart attack, the Associated Press reported. The suspect had a record of violent sexual assault and no connection to his young victim, police said.

Chiverella was snatched while she walked to school, and her body was found in a waste coal pit. An autopsy determined she had been raped and strangled.

DNA on a jacket the girl was wearing was matched to Forte after Eric Schubert, a college student who is a genetic genealogy expert, reportedly volunteered on the case and helped investigators narrow down their suspect list by creating a detailed family tree.

“Even though it took nearly 58 years for this case to be solved, I think this should instill in the families of victims across the state and across the country a sense of hope,” Pennsylvania state police Cpl. Mark Baron said, according to NBC News. “And that hope is that no matter how long it may take, we as law enforcement will never give up in trying to find the perpetrators of these heinous crimes that go on. God willing, in life or in death you will be found.”

Carmen Marie Radtke, Chiverella’s sister, said she and loved ones “have so many precious memories” of the slain girl. “At the same time, our family will always feel the emptiness and sorrow of her absence,” she noted. “We will continue to ask ourselves, what would have been, what could have been?”

Former Navarro cheerleading star Jerry Harris takes a plea deal in his case involving sex crimes against minors.

On Feb. 10, Jerry Harris, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors and admitted guilt to two of seven federal charges against him: receiving child porn using interstate commerce, and traveling over state lines with intent to illicit sexual conduct with a minor.

According to court documents, the charges are in connection to Harris paying a 17-year-old around a total of $3,000 to send him sexually explicit photos and videos in the summer of 2020 as well as traveling to Orlando, Florida, to meet a 15-year-old “for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct,” The New York Times reported.

Harris’ legal team wrote in a statement that the 22-year-old former cheerleader “wishes to take responsibility for his actions and publicly convey his remorse for the harm he has caused the victims in this case.”

Harris was arrested in September 2020 and initially charged with production of child pornography. His lawyers said he would “spend the rest of his life making amends for what he has done” and claimed “Jerry was himself exploited, manipulated, and sexually abused as a child within the Cheer Community in a way that perversely made him believe that this sexual conduct was somehow normal when it was not.”

Harris, who was being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 28 and may face up to 50 years behind bars.

The terms of his plea deal call for prosecutors to drop the remaining five counts against him — four counts of sexual exploitation of children and one count of enticement, according to The New York Times.

A man took his own life after he accidentally shot his brother to death.

An Oregon man who meant to protect his home from a bear instead killed his brother, authorities said.

On Feb. 8 around 7 a.m., the man phoned 911 to report he “accidentally shot his brother while loading a gun because there was a bear on their property” in rural Sunny Valley, Josephine County Undersheriff Travis Snyder said in a statement.

Responding deputies located a man shot dead as well as a second man who appeared to have a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the undersheriff.

Investigators believe the caller took his own life after contacting 911.

“I would never be surprised to see a bear in that particular part of our county. We have bears everywhere down here,” Snyder told The Oregonian. “This time of year is when they’re getting out of bed and looking for things to eat.”

“This is a terrible set of circumstances that took place,” Snyder said. “It’s a tragedy.”

The sheriff’s office has not released the identities of the brothers in the ongoing investigation.

Three inmates escaped a Tennessee jail through an air vent, police say.

Two men who recently escaped a Tennessee jail through an HVAC air vent in the ceiling of their cell are dead and a third is back in custody, authorities said.

On Feb. 4, Timothy Sarver, Tobias Carr, and Johnny "Shane" Brown managed to get out of the Sullivan County Jail, WCYB reported.

“We can say that a combination of facility failure and human error resulted in the inmates being able to escape in the manner that they did,” Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy said.

Law enforcement captured Brown on Feb. 10, four days after authorities confirmed the other two escaped inmates, Sarver and Carr, were dead.

“Preliminary information indicates both men [Sarver and Carr] were involved in a robbery at a convenience store in another part of North Carolina and led authorities on a multi-jurisdictional pursuit before the vehicle was disabled in Wilmington,” authorities said, CNN reported.

Officials did not reveal how the men died since the investigation is ongoing.

Parkland mass shooter Nikolas Cruz claims a personality called “hatred” committed the crime.

Nikolas Cruz, the student who fatally shot 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018 believes he has multiple personalities and may present it as a defense during the penalty trial phase of his case in April.

“The defendant is referring to another personality as 'hatred' and he's the one who committed these crimes so that obviously could be a multi-personality defense,” an attorney for the state of Florida said during a Feb. 10 pre-penalty hearing, according to Newsweek.

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October to 17 charges of murder and 17 charges of attempted murder in connection to the shooting massacre of students and staff at his school.

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