Neighbors Remember Deadly Fire, Arsonist Sentenced
SCRANTON — Gayle Savinelli lives two houses down from what is now an empty lot. She said the void here on South Hyde Park Avenue is a constant reminder of the day this neighborhood changed.
“It’s a nightmare, like I said, as soon as I heard somebody hollering ‘fire’ I knew immediately it had to be her. And then my husband ran with the ladder and got the one boy down. She wouldn’t come down finally the firefighter got her to come down the ladder because the boys were still in there,” said Savinelli.
9-tear-old Taevon Miles and 10-year-old Michael Miles were trapped inside and killed in the fire in 2009.
Eventually, their mother’s ex-boyfriend William Woods was arrested for setting the fire and their murder. About three and a half years after their death, Woods learned his sentence: two life terms plus an additional 37-74 years in state prison.
“Thank god, because I was so afraid he was going to get away with it. I thought on a technicality or something. But, thank God he got what he deserved definitely,” said Savinelli.
The victim’s mother, Tyaisha Leary, testified against Woods last year saying Woods had threatened to harm her and her children. She sat in on the sentencing at the Lackawanna County Courthouse.
Even though Leary has moved out of this part of Scranton, neighbors still here said the can’t drive by this spot without thinking of her, and of Taevon and Michael.
“Tragedy can happen and you have to be careful, you never know when it can hit you. I hope that they remember it and it’s not forgotten and doesn’t go ‘bye’, I hope it’s still remembered,” said Racquel Nicholson, of Scranton.
Woods was sentenced at the Lackawanna County Courthouse but Woods heard the sentence by video conference. He’s already in a state prison in western Pennsylvania.
That’s where he began to serve his life sentence.