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After nearly two decades, arrest made in homicide of eight-year-old

Savannah Streber, 8, was killed on Feb. 24, 2004, in a fire allegedly set by Timothy Kuhn, 63. Kuhn was arraigned on Friday.
Savannah Streber, 8, was killed on Feb. 24, 2004, in a fire allegedly set by Timothy Kuhn, 63. Kuhn was arraigned on Friday.

Nearly 20 years after eight-year-old Savannah Streber was killed in an intentionally set fire, police have arrested a suspect in her death.

Timothy Kuhn, 63, was charged Friday with second-degree murder and first-degree arson for allegedly setting the fire that led to Streber’s death. Kuhn, who had a no contact order of protection against him by Streber’s mother, Lisa Routier, at the time of the incident, had always been the lone suspect in the case, but a dearth of evidence prevented an arrest.

He pleaded not guilty and was remanded to Monroe County Jail, where he is held without bail. Police said that several new tips that came in during December provided them with enough evidence to arrest Kuhn. He was taken into custody last week by the US Marshals Violent Felony Fugitive Taskforce at his home in Holmes County, Florida. He was arraigned Friday morning in front of Rochester City Court Judge Stephen Miller.

“We know this arrest will not bring her back, but we hope it will bring you some sense of solace,” Rochester police Chief David Smith said, in front of a group of Streber’s family in the city Public Safety Building Auditorium. “And the person responsible will finally face a court of law.”

On the night of Feb. 24, 2004, Savannah was at her family’s home at 17 Yates Street on the city’s northeast side. With her were her three-year-old sister Alex, a babysitter, and the babysitter’s 11-year-old son. Routier was at work at the time.

Just after midnight, Kuhn allegedly set fire to the back porch of the house. The fire woke up the babysitter’s son, who ran to a neighbor for help. The babysitter got Alex and Savannah up, but once they were outside, she realized that Savannah was no longer with her. By that point, the fire had gotten too intense for her to reenter the house.

Police believe Routier was the intended target of the arson.

Firefighters found Savannah’s body in her mother’s bedroom. Police believe she had run to find her mother before being consumed in the inferno.

“We’re just happy an arrest has finally been made,” Savannah’s older sister Kelly Streber said, at a news conference. “We never gave up, we never stopped fighting. Savannah, you haven’t been forgotten.”

Gino Fanelli is an investigative reporter who also covers City Hall. He joined the staff in 2019 by way of the Rochester Business Journal, and formerly served as a watchdog reporter for Gannett in Maryland and a stringer for the Associated Press.