S.F. police say they’ve cracked case of 1978 S.F. slaying

Girl, 15, visiting The City was found dead in Sutro Heights Park

San Francisco police said they cracked a decades-old cold case with the arrest last week of a Colorado man in connection the slaying of a 15-year-old girl visiting San Francisco in 1978.

Mark Stanley Personette, 76, of Conifer, Colorado, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of homicide in the death of Marissa Rolf Harvey, whose body was found in Sutro Heights park on March 28, 1978, police said Sunday.

“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.

Personette was taken into custody after a joint operation by the San Francisco Police Department’s homicide detail, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, FBI and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Marissa traveled in 1978 from New York to San Francisco to visit family. She went to Golden Gate Park on March 27 but didn’t return, police said. Her body was found in nearby Sutro Heights Park the next day.

At the time, The City’s homicide detail investigated the case using the best available technology and exhausted every lead, Scott said.

The investigation, however, went cold until October 2020 when the department’s homicide cold case unit reopened the case using advanced investigative methods employed by the department’s forensic sciences division.

In the wake of Personette’s arrest, San Francisco police are asking law enforcement agencies to review their sexual assault cold case homicides involving young women to identify any other incidents in which Personette may be a suspect. They released several booking photos of Personette over the years.

Anyone with information or leads in the case is asked to call S.F. Sgt. Alan Levy at (415) 553-9245 or by email at alan.levy@sfgov.org.

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