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Lantern Lane Arson Arrest | News

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Lantern Lane Arson Arrest

A woman accused of torching a landmark in Luzerne County was getting even for being evicted, according to police.

Gail Schneider, 41, of Berwick was charged Thursday with arson and putting people and firefighters in danger.

State police said Schneider set fire to the Lantern Lane building in Conyngham two months ago. That blaze damaged four businesses and four apartments. Investigators suspect the blaze was act of revenge.

"There were some text messages where she indicated that paybacks are a bitch," said Trooper Jim Surmick.

According to court papers, Schneider, who was a tenant in the Lantern Lane building but was evicted when she got into an argument with another tenant, wrote the word "die" on that tenant's door and scratched her car door.

State police said they confiscated Schneider's computer and found some incriminating searches.

"How to blow up somebody's car, searches that were very detailed in nature concerning fire investigations and we thought that was odd. It went well beyond internet searches are conducted," Trooper Surmick added.

Fire victim Barbara Reese, 92, said the only things left standing in her apartment were two religious statures. She believes divine intervention saved her from death. "I knew how I got out the window but I don't know how I turned around to hand there. I am sure I had help," Reese said. She was relieved to hear of an arrest. "I lost my home. That's why I am happy. She did a lot of harm to me and the rest of us. It was frightening."

"W were happy to hear that and there is no doubt in my mind that the unit at the state police barracks in Hazleton would do a good job and putting it together," said fire victim Conrad Falvello.

Conyngham Mayor Joe Carelli said he's glad state police got Schneider off the streets. "She went after some innocent people and it bothers the community and it really bothers us because those people were innocent," Carelli said.

State police said Schneider put lives in danger during the fire.

"In this case you had two 92-year-old women were at home at the time of this fire and fortunately they were not killed. By the grace of God they were not killed," Surmick said.

Schneider is in jail, unable to come up with $150,000 bail.


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