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Police arrest 76-year-old man in cold case of 1978 strangling death of teen in San Francisco

The San Francisco Police Department said they arrested Colorado man Mark Stanley Personette and charged him with the murder of Marissa Rolf Harvey over 40 years ago.

Police in San Francisco say they arrested a 76-year-old man and charged him with murder for the 1978 strangling death of Marissa Rolf Harvey, a New York City teen who was found dead after visiting Golden Gate Park.

Mark Stanley Personette, of Conifer, Colorado, was arrested Dec. 16 and is awaiting trial at Jefferson County Jail in Colorado for one count of homicide, according to a San Francisco Police Department statement Sunday.

The SFPD conducted the arrest alongside the FBI and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, the statement said. Sheriff's office records say Personette is currently jailed on a charge of "fugitive from justice."

Marissa Rolf Harvey.
Marissa Rolf Harvey.San Francisco Police Dept.

The 15-year-old Harvey traveled from New York to visit family in San Francisco in 1978, but disappeared during a March 27 visit to Golden Gate Park, SFPD said.

Her body was found the next day with signs of strangulation in nearby Sutro Heights Park, but the case soon went cold, SFPD said.

The department's forensic sciences division reopened the case last year, which eventually led to Personette's arrest and public identification as the suspect in Harvey's murder. The SFPD is now calling on other law enforcement agencies to review similar sexual assault cold cases for potential links to Personette.

Chief Bill Scott praised his department’s cold case investigators and said “we hope this case sends an unequivocal message that you are never forgotten by the San Francisco Police Department.”

Zulfikar Asif Wafai, Personette's attorney, did not respond to an NBC News request for comment.

“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,” said SFPD chief Scott.