Football has always been a big deal in Clairton.
Just last December, the Bears celebrated winning the team's third PIAA championship in a row, continuing a decades-old tradition of being a powerhouse team.
As memorable as those games are for some, the one played on Nov. 6, 1981 is remembered by others—but not because of the sport. For them, the disappearance of ninth-grader Toni Lynn McNatt-Chiappetta the night before is what brings that game to mind.
A petite 14 year old, Toni left her home on Van Kirk Street, just one block over the Clairton Bears' football stadium on Miller Avenue. Atop her white sweater and jeans, she was wearing a black jacket with orange-trimmed cuffs and waist. "Toni" was in white letters on the front and "Clairton Band" on the back.
Football season was nearing its end for the year and the pep rally for the Bears drew students that Thursday evening to support the team. There are conflicting reports as to whether that pep rally was at the stadium or at the high school several blocks away.
She was to meet a date about 6 p.m. and then head to the rally. He waited 15 minutes for her, and then left alone when she never showed up, according to a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Friends told authorities that she never arrived at the rally.
Toni was last seen just blocks from her home by a friend between 6 and 7 p.m. Nov. 6, near the intersection of Mitchell and Miller avenues, where a soft-serve ice cream stand buffered the nice, tree-lined residential street from the main business corridor. Her mother, Audrey McNatt-Chiappetta, worked at a bar across the street from the stand, but was not working the night her daughter disappeared.
A few days after the disappearance, there were some many conflicting reports, including one that Toni was seen several blocks from the stadium because she might have had plans to go shopping and not attend the rally.
There was no evidence of a disturbance in her home, according to reports from the time. A search of wooded and isolated areas around the mill town yielded no clues. Toni's father, Sam Chiappetta, then a truck driver for United Van Lines, launched a nationwide search by distributing flyers.
Toni had no history of running away and no steady boyfriend. She would now be 43 years old. Authorities say foul play is suspected.
Toni is described as a white female; 5 feet, 2-inches tall; 105 pounds; with blonde, straight hair and blue/green/hazel eyes, a mole on the left side of her neck, one on the right front of her nose, light freckles across her face and a scar on the left side of her stomach. She also has pierced ears.
Just five days before Toni disappeared, the body of 15-year-old of Peters Township was found in a wooded area of South Fayette Township. Christine had disappeared while waiting for a bus into Pittsburgh on Oct. 26, 1981. Police at the time did not think the two incidents were connected.
If you have any information concerning this case, contact Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Tim Cross at 412-929-6262. All information may be submitted on an anonymous basis.