Toni McNatt-Chiappetta, age 14, went missing from Clairton, PA on November 5, 1981.
She was last seen sometime between 6pm and 7pm as she walked from her home to a pep rally at her high school. She was supposed to meet a male friend prior to going to the rally, but she never showed up. The last sighting of her was when she walked by an ice cream stand, which was directly across the street from a bar where her mother worked. She was wearing a black jacket imprinted with Clairton, and her name on the front, and jeans. It was reportedly pouring down rain that day.
Toni was known as a tomboy, and was involved in church activities and enjoyed baton twirling.
Although Toni had no history of running away or getting into any trouble, it was initially thought that she may have run away, because she had lived with her grandparents for a couple months prior to the start of the school year, possibly due to sexual abuse. Toni’s parents canvassed the neighborhood, to no avail.
Due to the possible sexual abuse, as well as multiple domestic violence incidents that had occurred in the home, Toni’s father, Sam Chiappetta, was viewed as a person of interest early on, in spite of his efforts to locate Toni by launching a flyer campaign through his workplace, United Van Lines. Mr. Chiappetta was given a polygraph test, which indicated that he was being deceptive.
Several years after Toni’s disappearance, her mother appeared at the police station, and stated that she had come to believe that her husband may have been involved in Toni’s disappearance. She then admitted she had always had suspicions, but was afraid of Sam and therefore concealed some information relating to her disappearance.
She told police that she had arrived home that night to find the shirt that Toni had worn to school that day, soaking wet, and hanging on the laundry line. This seemed to lead many to believe that Sam Chiappetta did indeed have a part in Toni’s disappearance, because it would indicate that Toni did arrive home. I have not seen any indication, however, of what Toni was wearing when she left in the evening for the rally, other than the black jacket and jeans. It’s very possible that she changed her shirt after school that day, and wore a different one to the rally. Due to the fact that it had been pouring down rain that day, it could be that her shirt was wet from walking home from school, or she could have washed it. I do not see how the shirt indicates that she came home from the rally, unless it is known that she was wearing the same shirt when she left again for the rally. It doesn’t state that anywhere, nor is there any indication that the jacket, jeans, and shoes she WAS known to be wearing to the rally were found in the home.
It has also been mentioned that Sam Chiappetta replaced their wooden deck with a cement one shortly after Toni’s disappearance. It was reportedly very unusual for Sam to perform any home repairs. This has understandably led to some speculation that Toni may have been harmed at home, and that her remains may be underneath the concrete. I have not seen anything to indicate that this has been checked, though. I hope they will use GPR to check for anything unusual underneath the concrete.
Her parents are both deceased, so there is no way to get any further information from them about anything they might have known. Her sisters are living and continue to search for information on what happened to their sister that night.
There was another girl who was abducted from a nearby town, and found deceased in a wooded area, five days before Toni’s disappearance, but police did not think the two cases were related.
From reading the more recent articles, written since her mother came forward, there seems to be a consensus that something happened to her at home, at the hands of her father – but if she was seen walking to the rally and never arrived there (according to friends), it doesn’t seem too likely that she made it home – unless she never left, and the person who said they saw her walking was her mother. Since her mother worked at the bar across the street from where she was seen walking, it’s possible that her mother was the one who said she saw Toni walking, but it was never stated who had claimed to see her. If her mother was the one who said she saw her walking, perhaps she also recanted that when she came forward years later, implicating Toni’s father as a possible suspect.
Post-Gazette from 1981
Post-Gazette from 1983