Left and Center: Toni circa, 1981
Right: Age Progressed to age 54
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: November 5, 1981
Missing From: Clairton, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: May 31, 1967
Age: 14 years old
Height and Weight: 5’2″ and 105 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Female, Blonde hair, Hazel eyes, Toni has a mole on the left side of her neck and her ears are both pierced, some agencies might give her last name as McNatt-Chiapetta
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A black jacket with Toni imprinted on the front and “Clairton Band” imprinted on the back with orange trim around the waist and cuffs, a white sweater, and a pair of blue jeans
NCMEC Number: 603360
Details of Disappearance
Toni was last seen in Clairton, Pennsylvania on November 5th 1981. She reportedly left her family’s residence located in the 900 block of Van Kirk Street and walked to the corner store with a friend where she purchased a bag of chips and a soda. Afterwards, Toni went to her friends house and chatted until about 5:00 pm and then she left 20 minutes later to begin walking to Clairton High School which was six blocks away. She was going to attend a pep rally there and she was supposed to meet her boyfriend, Bobby Varva, at approximately 6:00 pm so they could go together.
That day, the temperatures were described as being ideal and quite nice but by the evening, it got cooler and it began to heavily rain. On her way to the pep rally, Toni stopped at a friend, Beth’s, residence. They spoke to each other for a few minutes before Toni said she had to go. She told Beth that she was meeting Bobby and that she had something very important to tell him that evening but she didn’t elaborate on what that was. She began walking again at 5:30 pm.
Beth told authorities that she saw Toni walk off into the rain. Bobby stated that he waited at the end of Rose Avenue where he was supposed to meet her at approximately 6:00 pm. He waited until 6:15 pm but Toni never showed up to the designated meeting place. Bobby went to the pep rally to see if maybe Toni was there or if any of her friends knew where she was. He spoke to some of her friends there but none of them had seen her and she never actually made it to the rally that evening.
Bobby later said he was confused as to why she missed their date but that he wasn’t overly concerned with her absence. Toni was allegedly last seen by another classmate walking in the 600 block of Miller Avenue which was 4 blocks away from her home. She was walking in the direction of the high school at the time. The classmate said he stopped and said hello to Toni who said the same back to him. This area was just across the street from the bar where Toni’s mother, Audrey Chiapetta, worked as a bartender.
Investigators do not know what time she actually disappeared at. Some agencies claim she was last seen at 7:00 pm or 7:15 pm during that evening while it’s clear she vanished at some point between 5:30 pm and 6:00 pm. Toni was also supposed to babysit a neighbors child that evening but she never showed up to the house.
According to her father, Henry Samuel “Sam” Chiapetta, he arrived home from work at approximately 6:00 pm and Toni was not there. Audrey finished her shift at 7:30 pm and arrived home as well. As the time went on, Sam grew concerned about Toni’s whereabouts and so did Audrey. Sam initially assumed that Toni had gone to a neighborhood home to babysit after the pep rally and forgot to mention it. After Audrey got home from her shift, Toni still wasn’t home and they both went into panic mode. Audrey drove up and down the street looking for Toni.
Meanwhile, Sam began knocking on the doors of neighbors, looking for any sign of the child. It was clear by midnight that something had happened to Toni and that she wasn’t coming back home. As a result, her parents contacted the authorities and filed a missing persons report. Early the next morning, police spread out across town in search of Toni. They also searched wooded areas and streams in the area that she went missing from.
Investigators questioned various neighborhood residents to see if any of them had seen Toni during the previous evening. No one had really seen her but according to her friends who had seen her, she was walking in the vicinity of her house in the direction of the high school. Investigators initially suspected that Toni had run away on her own accord. However, her parents stated she would never have done this.
Toni’s friends also said they didn’t think she had run away and she never mentioned any plans of wanting to do so. Although her friends and family hoped she was alive and maybe she did run off, she would’ve contacted her mother eventually since they were very close and she wouldn’t allow her to worry like this. Investigators now doubt she left on her own accord as she was said to be responsible, honest, dependable, and didn’t appear to have any major problems at the time of her disappearance.
Following her disappearance, Sam began to search intensively for his missing daughter. He worked as a trucker for the United Transfer Company at the time of his daughters disappearance. He was constantly on the search for his daughter and would do everything he could to find her. Due to his job, his boss contacted the head of the United Van Lines, the parent company of the Transfer Company and had them send out posters with Toni’s description and photo to all 3000 of the company’s drivers.
The United Van Lines truckers established a nationwide communications network but this did little to nothing for the search. Sam continued to seek out leads regarding her whereabouts. He even tried collecting clues along his Mon-Yough truck route and had his bosses permission to quit work for the day if he got any leads about Toni. He once received a tip that a girl matching her description was spotted in Uniontown. He was doing a delivery there so he spent the entire night asking people in the area if they had seen his daughter. The tip ended up as a dead end
Sam would spend up to 20 hours a day working and then would switch to his investigation in Toni’s case. He would even carry her photograph with him and interrogate everyone he came across. Sam spoke to the media openly about his daughters disappearance and his own search for answers. However, he would ask reporters to not take his photo and publish it in the news so that he could effectively continue his search for Toni. They respected his wishes. ￼
Investigators believe it’s possible Toni was abducted by a non-family member on the night of her disappearance. Soon after she went missing, there were reports that she had been forced into a van while she was walking near her home. However, investigators stated they did not believe this to be true. The area that Toni lived in was described as being heavily populated, with rows of neat, well-kept houses. Authorities described the neighborhood as a good place where parents would want to raise children.
They feel that if someone forcibly abducted Toni, she would’ve screamed or created a scene and someone would’ve heard her. No one heard or saw anything suspicious on the evening that she disappeared and there were no signs of an abduction occurring. There was initial suspicion that Toni’s disappearance could’ve been connected to another girl who went missing just before she did.
On October 26th 1981, 15 year old Christine Guenther left school early that day to head to a doctors appointment. It was a routine checkup for an ear infection she had a few months earlier. She was last seen at 1:00 pm, waiting for the bus at Donaldson’s Crossroads on Route 19 in Peters Township. Several witnesses saw her waiting and one of her friends waved to her as she passed her. According to reports, Christine never got on the bus and never made it to the appointment. ￼
Christine was reported missing when she never came back home. Five days after her disappearance, her body was discovered by a hunter in a wooded area of South Fayette Township, approximately 20 feet off Cecil-Sturgeon Road. She was fully clothed and was wearing the same clothing she had on when she vanished. Her early dismissal slip along with $3 in cash was found in her slacks. There was no evidence of sexual assault.
An autopsy determined that Christine was killed by multiple penetrating wounds of the head and brain. Her wounds were consistent with a small ax or a hatchet. The coroner estimated that she was killed less than 48 hours before her body was found. This means that she was alive for at least four days after her disappearance, which occurred on a Monday. Her body was discovered on a Friday. There was also no evidence that she had been bound or gagged prior to her death.
While the two disappearances occurred relatively close to each other in time, there was no evidence the indicate a connection between the two. Christine’s killer(s) has never been caught and her murder remains unsolved. Investigators began to believe that something bad had happened to Toni and that she was no longer believed to be a runaway child.
Approximately 4 months after Toni’s disappearance in 1982, as the woods were beginning to thaw, a man contacted the Clairton Police Station with alleged information on her whereabouts. The man said “Your little missing girl is at the bottom of Peters Crick” before he hung up the phone. Investigators searched the area he indicated for any trace of Toni but turned up nothing. It’s unclear if the lead was credible since nothing has been found.
Investigators have stated that a primary suspect in Toni’s disappearance was her own father, Sam. The original detective assigned to her case later stated that he always felt suspicious of him ever since the night Toni was reported as missing. Sam always maintained that he came back home to an empty house but he always seemed a bit edgy whenever speaking about that night. This led investigators to believe he was hiding something and that he knew more about his daughters disappearance then he let on.
It’s not even definitively known if Sam is Toni’s biological father or her sisters. He might’ve been her stepfather. Toni did not use his last name when she went missing and her relationship with him was described as “chaotic.” Toni was said to be somewhat afraid of him prior to her disappearance in 1981. Police responded to several domestic violence cases at the home and on one of these occasions, the police were called to the home after Sam fired a gun in the house early one morning. No one was injured during this event.
According to reports, Toni seemed eager to get out of her house quite often. During August or early September of 1981, Toni left her home and went to live with her grandparents in Uniontown for sometime until the new school year began, at which time she went back home. Investigators have stated it’s possible Sam was sexually abusing one or more of the girls, including Toni herself. Sam took a polygraph regarding her disappearance soon after it occurred and when asked if he had anything to do with her disappearance, he showed signs of deception.
In 1982, a sobbing Audrey Chiapetta would go to the detective and state that she believed Sam did indeed have something to do with Toni’s case and that he may have harmed her on the night of her disappearance. When the case began, Audrey stood by her husband and would maintain that no one in the family had any involvement in her disappearance and that Sam was not guilty of doing anything to his daughter. However, when she went to the detective, she stated she had withheld information when she reported Toni as missing in 1981.
Audrey initially claimed that she came home to find nothing weird or amiss about the residence at all, but she later stated this was not true. She stated that when she arrived home, she discovered that the blouse Toni had worn to school that day was hanging in the laundry room in the basement, she noted that it was damp at the time. Audrey said she tried to convince herself at the time that Toni must’ve done the laundry when she came home from school that day.
Toni was known to do her own laundry and she knew that anything too delicate to be put in the dryer was to be hung on the clothesline that went across the laundry room. However, there were no indications that she actually did laundry that day because her blouse was the only thing hanging on the line. There likely would’ve been more articles of clothing present to indicate she had indeed done the laundry. There were no piles of clothing that were ready to be put away. Audrey said she withheld the information because she feared what Sam would do if she revealed it.
Investigators believe that the blouse is evidence that Toni had indeed returned home during the evening of her disappearance. It began raining heavily when she was walking to the pep rally. They believe Toni might’ve been unprepared for the rainy weather so she returned to her residence after 6:00 pm so she could get a change of clothing and crossed paths with Sam since he came home at that time. While this is a possibility, Audrey stated that there were no signs of a physical struggle in the residence to indicate Sam harmed Toni, however.
Investigators nonetheless believe Toni was possibly killed inside her residence during the evening by Sam. They believe it was likely an accident and that he disposed of her body in the area. Not long after Toni’s disappearance, Sam replaced the wooden deck in his backyard with a cement one. This was seen as odd because he was not known for performing household improvements. There were rumors that Toni’s body was encased in the cement or that she was buried underneath it.
Whether Sam was involved in his daughters disappearance or not might never be determined. There was never enough evidence to prove he indeed had a hand in her demise. However, it is strongly believed that Toni was the victim of a homicide and her family no longer has hope she’ll turn up alive. Sam passed away in 2003.
There were possible witnesses who saw Toni walking several blocks past the high school that night which would technically make it improbable for Sam to be involved but then again these accounts have not been confirmed. Authorities said this confused them because Toni had no reason to be in that part of town at that hour, unless she wasn’t planning on attending the pep rally that evening like most accounts state. It’s possible she might’ve had other plans besides the pep rally.
In August of 2001, authorities announced they were taking a fresh look at Toni’s decades old case. A man named Dean Maskin, a municipal worker, was charged with raping a woman in her own home in Clairton. He turned himself into authorities after the woman identified him as her assailant that attacked her on August 16th of that year. The woman stated the attack occurred after she asked for help with sewer problems she had been having at the time.
She told city employees about the issue and she later saw them working near her home. She said that a worker with the name “Dean” on his municipal employee name tag had offered to take a look at her sewer problem and he came to her residence the next day. She showed him into her basement where she left him to take a look at the problem. After he returned a short time later, Maskin demanded sex from the woman as payment for what he did. He exposed his body to her and then forced himself on her.
Maskin was charged with rape, aggravated indecent sexual assault, unlawful restraint, and indecent assault. He was placed on bond and ordered to undergo an evaluation at a behavioral clinic. Investigators stated that he was considered a possible suspect in Toni’s disappearance following the incident because he was friends with her family in 1981 and was a neighbor to Toni as well. Her family stated that Toni would’ve known him well enough to trust him in 1981.
Maskin was originally questioned in relation to Toni’s disappearance in 1981 and wasn’t considered a suspect in the case until 2001. It’s possible that Dean crossed paths with Toni while she was walking to the pep rally that evening. However, there is no evidence linking him to her disappearance and he has denied any wrongdoing in her case. Investigators still consider him as a possible suspect in the case, however.
Toni’s sisters, Roxanne and Lea, are both still alive and continue to hope that they’ll find out what happened to their youngest sister in 1981. They believe she was probably abducted by someone she knew at the time of her disappearance. Roxanne believes Toni was taken from their home by someone she knew following a possible assault. Meanwhile, Lea believes someone abducted her sister while she was walking outside in the rain.
The two have suspicions about a man who was associated with Sam at the time of Toni’s disappearance. While this man hasn’t officially been labeled as a suspect in the case, the half sisters theorize that he might’ve seen Toni walking in the rain and offered her a ride, she likely would’ve accepted the ride since she trusted this individual at the time. There isn’t any evidence of this but the sisters believe nonetheless that Toni’s disappearance was caused by someone she knew and trusted.
In September of 1985, the city of Clairton went bankrupt and as a result, they laid off their entire police force. This meant that all law enforcement related matters were to be handled by the Pennsylvania State Police and this meant that detectives had to turn over all investigative files, including their files on Toni’s missing persons case. While the original detectives on the case felt the State Police were capable of properly investigating the case, but since the state police had higher caseloads, they wouldn’t be able to dedicate as much time to the case.
The Clairton police force was reinstated in 1992 but Toni’s missing persons case was kept in the possession of State Police and they remained in charge of the investigation. Toni’s family was not pleased with this decision and her sisters feel the state police don’t care about the investigation and whether it gets solved or not. The current detective on the case has stated that Toni’s disappearance remains an active police investigation.
At the time of her disappearance, Toni was described as a hard worker who babysat for several neighborhood families in 1981. She also worked bingo nights at St. Joseph Church for two nights during the week. She was described by loved ones and friends as a happy, loving girl who was fun to be around. She wasn’t the type of teenager to cause trouble and she didn’t seem all that interested in parties, makeup, steady relationships, and she was known to obey every rule her parents set in place for her.
Toni was a 9th grade student at Clairton High School in 1981 and was described as an average student. Most who knew her said she seemed like a tomboy at the time of her disappearance and she was said to be talkative, responsible, and she was known to enjoy things such as baton twirling and swimming. She even wanted to become a “Honeybear” majorette for the high school marching band. Audrey passed away in 2006. Toni’s disappearance remains unsolved and foul play is suspected.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Pennsylvania State Police 412-929-6262