Heidi Allen, the missing New York teen who vanished from a gas station over 20 years ago, will have her case revisited on the next episode of Dateline NBC. In the episode titled, “The Informant,” Dateline will recount how the missing teen vanished from a convenience store on an Easter Sunday morning and the investigation that led to the arrest of two brothers, which ended in one acquittal and one conviction. Heidi Allen’s story will be told by law enforcement officials and family members, who have continued to fight for justice in the case. There will also be an appearance by Richard Thibodeau, the man who was first accused of her kidnapping. Heidi Allen’s body has never been found.
Dateline will retrace how Heidi Allen disappeared from the D&W convenience store, along State Route 104 and 104-b, in New Haven, New York, on Easter morning in 1994. She had arrived at about 5:45 a.m. for her shift that Sunday and was last seen at 7:42, after attending to her last customer. Police began investigating the disappearance after it was reported that there was no store clerk inside. When investigators arrived at the scene, they found no sign of a struggle and no money was missing from the cash drawer.
Between the police and community members, several searches were conducted to find the missing teenager. Local gas station clerks all over Oswego County were fearful, since no one knew what happened to Heidi and the kidnapper was still out there. Many feared they could possibly be the next victim.
The Arrest Of Two Brothers
In May, 1994, someone reported that they had seen a man grabbing Heidi Allen. Richard P. Thibodeau,a 40-year-old construction worker and carpenter, was arrested and charged with her kidnapping. His brother, Gary Thibodeau, was also arrested and charged.
Richard has always maintained that he had nothing to do with her disappearance and was finally acquitted of all charges. However, his life was ruined, since people in the community continued to believe that he was involved. However, a jury found his brother, Gary Thibodeau, guilty and sentenced him to 25 years in prison. Over the years, Gary has tried to have his conviction tossed out and insists that they have the wrong man in custody, according to Syracuse.
“I’ve been innocent since Day One. There’s not much I can say. I’m done consuming myself and letting myself be eaten and eroded with all the (expletive) year after year. I just said, ‘Let it go.’ ” I just figured, well, there ain’t no chance now. No sense in giving them the 25 (years). I’ll let my body go to hell and hope I can die a lot sooner. I ain’t gonna kill myself, but if it happens naturally, that’s fine with me.”
There are still many questions about exactly who took Heidi Allen. The assumption has always been that she was kidnapped by someone she knew, and that there were people in the community who knew exactly what happened to her after she was abducted. In 2013, a woman named Tonya Priest came forward, stating that she was told some other men took Heidi from the store and killed her, according to Syracuse. She will also tell her part of the story on tonight’s Dateline NBC.
“Priest told investigators that one of the three men, James Steen, admitted to her killing Allen and hiding her body. He told her Steen, Breckenridge and Michael Bohrer had abducted Allen because she was planning to go to the police about drug dealers.”
Watch Dateline this Friday at 10/9 p.m. central to see how a mystery bracelet, a witness, and a cabin search years later relates to the case. Also, listen out for the latest developments and theories regarding Heidi. To read up on the story, check out the book Where’s Heidi: One Sister’s Journey by Lisa M Buske.
[Image via Unsolved Syracuse/Facebook]