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DNA Links 76-Year-Old Man With 1978 Murder of 15-Year-Old Girl

A Colorado man arrested last month on suspicion of killing a 15-year-old girl in 1978 was formally arraigned on murder charges this week.

New Yorker Marissa Harvey was visiting her sister in San Francisco in 1978, The Associated Press reported. Police said she went to Golden Gate Park on March 27 for horseback-riding but never returned. She was reported missing, and her body was found the next day nearby in Sutro Heights Park.

Investigators hit a wall for 43 years until last fall when genealogical DNA linked Mark Stanley Personette, now 76, to the crime scene. He was arrested in Denver on December 16 and extradited to California, as CrimeOnline previously reported.

“We are proud of our team and our collaboration with (San Francisco police) to solve this crime,” San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said, according to the AP. “We will work to ensure that Mr. Personette is held accountable for the brutal and heinous acts that took Marissa’s life and to bring closure to her family, which has never stopped advocating for justice.”

Authorities said they suspect Personette may have been involved in other unsolved sexual assault-related homicides and urged agencies to review such cases.

San Francisco police said investigators used all the tools at their disposal to try to solve the case 43 years ago, but it went cold. They reopened the case in October 2020.

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[Featured image: Center: Marissa Harvey/San Francisco Police Department; Left: Mark Personette in 1979/Hopewell Township, New Jersey, Police Department via AP; Right: Personette in 2021/Jefferson County, Colorado, Sheriff’s Department via AP]