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Toni Savero and Gary Ziegler | The Unsolved

An arson claimed the lives of two people whose stories are now almost lost to time.

SCRANTON, Pa. — Sometimes the unsolved cases we cover are notorious in the communities where they happened, and the people associated with them become household names. 

That's not the case with this story.

The two victims of an arson in Scranton in 1990 are all but forgotten.

Toni Savero's best friend shared with us what may be the only remaining photo of her, taken two years before Toni died. It's one of the last traces of her.

The few people who remember her didn't want to talk to Action 16 Investigates on camera but called Toni a good friend who lived a tough life. She was estranged from her family and on her own when her life came to an abrupt end. 

Toni lived on Price Street, just off of North Main Avenue in west Scranton. There were several row homes here in what's now a parking lot. 

Toni Savero and about 30 other people lived here. And all were forced out in the early morning hours of November 14th, 1990. Fire swept through the row homes. An arson investigator would later find that the fire was intentionally set. 

Two people were seen by the origin of the fire when it started, but they did nothing to alert the dozens of people inside. 

The Scranton Times reported that Toni made it out of the building OK, but she went back in an attempt to save her television, the only thing of value she had.

On her return trip inside, she died from the fire's toxic fumes along with a man she had met only the night before, Gary Ziegler of Philadelphia.

We know even less about Ziegler. Toni's friend heard his name for the first time on the news. 

Police said the pair were innocent victims in what appeared to be an act of retaliation involving rival drug dealers. 

Here's what the district attorney at the time, now county judge Michael Barrasse told Newswatch 16 in 1990:

"There has been recent arrests made there involving a major cocaine dealer, and there was another person involved in the building who did have a record for drug distribution." 

But, no arrests were ever made in connection with the arson or the deaths of Toni Savero and Gary Ziegler.

And before their memories are lost, their names are worth repeating.

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