Whats happened to James Forte, Suspected killer left few clues

Hazleton State Police released what they know about James Paul Ford, who they publicly named on Thursday as the perpetrator of the 1964 kidnapping and murder of 9-year-old Marise Ann Chiverella.

Investigators said they knew Forte was arrested for sexual assault in 1974 and reckless endangerment in 1978. They also announced that Forte, a bartender, died of heart failure on May 16, 1980, at a dance hall in Hazle Township, where he worked. He was only 38 years old when he died.

Aside from two unrelated criminal arrests, Ford appears to be living a low-key life.

DNA evidence and genetic genealogist Eric Schubert had identified Forte as Marise’s killer, investigators said at a news conference Thursday, citing a review of genealogy websites and newspaper archives. Indicates that Forte keeps his own secrets.

In the 1959 Hazleton High School yearbook, Ford listed his senior photo just once, the same photo that state police released at a news conference.

Next to Forte’s photo, the description reads: “Tall, blue-eyed, handsome…likes to sleep…Sports are his favorites, especially baseball…future uncertain.” Forte’s education is listed as “professional.”

Forte is not shown or listed anywhere else in the 1959 yearbook under the school clubs, athletics, or dance programs.

A search of ancestry.com shows that Ford enlisted on October 16, 1959, and was discharged on September 28, 1962. Attempts to determine whether Forte’s discharge was honorable or dishonorable were unsuccessful.

The Times Leader on Friday obtained court documents related to Ford’s 1974 arrest.

State police charged Forte on April 3, 1974, the same day a 23-year-old woman reported that he sexually assaulted her on Stockton Mountain Road in Hazle Township.

Police issued a search warrant for Forte’s vehicle and they took hair samples from the front seat and dirt that suggested the vehicle had been driven in the area where the attack occurred, court documents said.

Forte was charged with nonconsensual sex, indecent assault and aggravated battery and was released on a $5,000 bond.

When the case reached district court, prosecutors dropped the sexual assault charge, and Ford pleaded guilty to aggravated battery on Sept. 18, 1974.

The late Judge Bernard C. Brominski sentenced Forte to one year of special probation on October 2, 1974, overseen by the Pennsylvania Office of Probation and Parole. Court documents say he was ordered to pay the woman’s hospital bill.

Records of Ford’s 1978 arrest for reckless endangerment and harassment could not be located Friday.

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