Suspect arrested in San Francisco killing, 43 years later

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A man was arrested in Colorado on suspicion of killing a teenage girl in San Francisco more than four decades ago and detectives say he may be a suspect in other unsolved homicides.

Mark Stanley Personette, 76, was arrested in suburban Denver on Thursday following a joint operation by San Francisco police, the FBI and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office, authorities announced Sunday. He was booked for investigation of homicide in connection with the 1978 death of Marissa Harvey.

It’s not known whether he has an attorney who can speak in his behalf.

The 15-year-old New York girl was visiting family in San Francisco when she didn’t return from a day trip to Golden Gate Park. Her body was found a day later, in nearby Sutro Heights Park.

The San Francisco Police Department said in a statement 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 statement said without specifying the methods.

“For more than four decades, Marissa Harvey’s family members have been relentless advocates to bring her killer to justice, and we hope this development in the case begins to bring a measure of healing and closure they’ve been too long denied,” Police Chief Bill Scott said. He thanked forensic scientists and “other unsung heroes” who helped solve the case.

Police released booking photos of Personette taken over several decades, including a 1979 arrest in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and 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.

Information about his criminal history was not released.

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