Forty-three years after a Long Island girl was killed while visiting her long lost sister in San Francisco, cops say they’ve finally arrested the man who strangled the teen and left her body in a park.
Mark Stanley Personette, 76, of Conifer, Colo., was arrested Thursday and charged with homicide in the death of 15-year-old Marissa Rolf Harvey, whose body was found in Sutro Heights Park on March 28, 1978. Authorities are now eyeing him as a suspect in other unsolved homicides.
The investigation had remained dormant for decades until October 2020, when the San Francisco Police Department’s cold-case unit reexamined the killing. The department said it had relied on “advanced investigative methods,” without going into detail.
San Francisco law enforcement shared few details about Personette, who lived 1,200 miles from The City by the Bay. Online records show he’s also charged with being a fugitive from justice.
“For more than four decades, Marissa Harvey’s family members have been relentless advocates to bring her killer to justice,” said San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott, “We hope this development in the case begins to bring a measure of healing and closure they’ ve been too long denied.”
The victim’s mother, Marguerite Schultz, 86, declined to comment on the breakthrough. She said detectives told her to stay silent about the case because the investigation is still active.
Months before her death on the West Coast trip, Marissa and her family learned that the adopted girl had a biological sister in California.
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According to reports, Marissa begged her parents in Port Washington, LI to go. They finally relented in March to let the girl fly alone to San Francisco during her Easter break for a weekend visit.
Among the items on Marissa’s to-do list was horseback riding at the Golden Gate Park Stables, where her sister’s friend dropped her off, unaware that the stables were closed.
When Marissa failed to return, her sister reported her missing. A day later, just before sunset, a man saw a pair of small feet sticking out of a park bush.
Authorities determined Marissa had been sexually assaulted and strangled.
Investigators quickly hit a dead end — until recently. The police chief thanked forensic scientists and “other unsung heroes” for helping crack the case.
Cops shared information about Personette with other departments to determine if he’s linked to other cold-case assaults and murders.
Police released several booking photos of Personette taken over decades, showing that he had been arrested multiple times, including in New Jersey.