Police Arrest Suspect in 43-Year San Francisco Homicide Case

Police Arrest Suspect in 43-Year San Francisco Homicide Case Human skull of a murdered adult in forensic lab, conceptual image (Felipe Caparros Cruz/Dreamstime)

By Luca Cacciatore | Wednesday, 22 December 2021 06:05 PM

Authorities announced Sunday that Mark Stanley Personette, 76, was arrested Dec. 16 for the murder of Marissa Rolf Harvey, who died by strangulation in March 1978 at the age of 15.

"For more than four decades, Marissa Harvey's family members have been relentless advocates to bring her killer to justice," San Francisco police chief Bill Scott said in a statement, according to the Independent. "We hope this development in the case begins to bring a measure of healing and closure they've been too long denied."

Marissa, adopted at the age of 3, was visited in her Port Washington, New York, home on Dec. 25, 1977, by a 30-year-old woman claiming to be her biological sister, SFGATE reported.

The woman, who resided in San Francisco, told the Harveys she hired a company to track down her biological sister.

Marissa then begged her parents to let her visit her newfound sister across the country in California.

"We didn't really want her to, but we felt it would be unfair if we didn't let her go," mother Marguerite Schultz Harvey told Newsday in 1978, according to SFGATE. "We told her sister to be careful with her."

Marissa traveled from Queens, New York, to visit her sister in San Francisco during Easter 1978. The teenager's body was found in Golden Gate Park a few days later.

Although the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) investigated Marissa's death soon after finding her body, the case went cold for nearly 42 years. After being reopened in October 2020, the arrest of Personette followed a year later.

The suspect's arrest took place in Jefferson County, Colorado, during a joint operation conducted by the SFPD, the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, the Independent reported.

Personette was taken to the Jefferson County Jail and will appear in court Jan. 10.