Robyn Burke, (415) 603-9696 / Robyn.Burke@sfgov.org,
Public Information Officer
San Francisco – Today, District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced murder charges against Mark Stanley Personette for the 1978 sexual assault and murder of 15-year-old Marissa Harvey. This case sat cold for 43 years until a DNA hit in a genealogy database linked DNA taken from the crime scene to Mr. Personette. District Attorney staff members flew to Colorado to effectuate the arrest and arrange for his extradition to San Francisco. Mr. Personette will be arraigned in court tomorrow at 9am.
“We are proud of our team and our collaboration with SFPD to solve this crime,” said District Attorney Chesa Boudin. “We will work to ensure that Mr. Personette 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.”
On March 27, 1978, Marisa was visiting her sister in San Francisco and had planned to rent a horse in Golden Gate Park. When she did not return home, her sister reported her missing to the police. Her body was discovered the next morning at the opening of Sutro Heights Park.
At the time of his arrest on December 16, 2021, Mr. Personette, 76, was living in Colorado. The San Francisco District Attorney’s office successfully secured his extradition to San Francisco to be prosecuted for this crime.
The case was solved through DNA evidence. In criminal cases involving DNA, DNA evidence is loaded into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a program run by the FBI to link DNA databases from criminal justice agencies across the nation. This searchable program allows law enforcement agencies to load a sample collected from a crime scene into the database to search for a match nationwide. In this case, there was no hit in CODIS when the sample was uploaded. Ultimately, a third-party database was used to identify a familial DNA match, which led to Mr. Personette’s identification and subsequent arrest.
There are more than 50 cold homicide cases in San Francisco, and more nationwide. We encourage law enforcement agencies everywhere to upload DNA evidence to CODIS, hopefully leading to the resolution of more cold homicide cases.