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Man Arrested In Colorado, ID'd Through DNA, Charged In 1978 Killing Of Teen Girl

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A man arrested in Colorado on suspicion of killing a teenage girl in San Francisco more than four decades ago has been charged with murder in her death, prosecutors said. Mark Stanley Personette, 76, was arrested in Jefferson County in December following a joint operation by San Francisco police, the FBI and the Jefferson County Sheriff's office. He was booked for investigation of homicide in connection with the 1978 death of 15-year-old Marissa Harvey.

Mark Stanley Personette (California 1978 Murder, from JeffCo SO)
Mark Personette (credit: Jefferson County Sheriff's Office)

Personnette was arraigned in a San Francisco court Thursday. His attorney, Adam Gasner, did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The case sat cold for 43 years until a DNA hit in a genealogy database linked DNA taken from the crime scene to Personette, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said in a statement.

"We will work to ensure that Mr. Personnette 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," Boudin said.

Harvey, of New York, was visiting her sister in San Francisco when she didn't return from a day trip to Golden Gate Park, where she planned to do some horse riding. Her body was found a day later in nearby Sutro Heights Park.

California 1978 Murder (victim Marissa Harvey, from San Francisco PD in 2020)
Marissa Harvey (credit: San Francisco Police Department)

The San Francisco Police Department said after Personnete's arrest that investigators used the best available technology at the time and exhausted every lead, but the case went cold. In October 2020, they reopened the investigation and determined Personette to be a suspect using "advanced investigative methods."

The case was solved after investigators used a third-party DNA database and found genetic information from a relative, which led to Mr. Personnette's identification and arrest, Boudin said.

Authorities urged law enforcement agencies nationwide to review their unsolved sexual assault-related homicides involving young women to determine if there is a connection to Personette, who was previously arrested several times, including on charges of assault in 1979 in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

(© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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