NY HEIDI ALLEN: Missing from New Haven, NY - 3 April 1994 - Age 18


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Heidi Marie Allen was kidnapped on Easter Sunday, April 3, 1994 while working alone as a cashier at the D&W Convenience Store in New Haven, Oswego County, New York.

edited by staff to add media link

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Right: Circa 1993; Far Right Age Progress by Diana Trepkov; then age progressed to 35 yrs

Heidi Marie Allen
Missing since April 3, 1994 from New Haven, Oswego County, New York.
Classification: Endangered Missing

Vital Statistics
Date Of Birth: September 14, 1975
Age at Time of Disappearance: 18 years old
Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance: 5'11"; 145 lbs.
Jewelry: Heidi may have been wearing an 18" gold chain necklace with a heart and diamond charm at the time she disappeared.
Distinguishing Characteristics: White female. Light brown/blond hair worn long and curly; blue/hazel eyes. Birth mark (unknown location).
Marks, Scars: One inch scar on right knee. She wears glasses or contact lenses and has pierced ears.
Clothing: She wears glasses with renaissance metal frames. She was last seen wearing white sneakers (size 9 or 10), light colored blue jeans and a light gray sweatshirt with plaid S.U. letters.
Dentals: Available
DNA: Available

Circumstances of Disappearance

On Easter Sunday, April 3, 1994, Heidi Allen was working alone as a cashier at the D&W Convenience Store, located at the intersection of State Routes 104 and 104B in New Haven, NY. She opened the store at about 05:45 and managed the store routinely for approximately 2 hours, with nothing out of the ordinary occurring.

About 07:50, an Oswego County Sheriff?s Department patrol unit was flagged down in the area by a citizen who reported that the convenience store was open, with lights and gas pumps on, but no one tending the business. Allen had apparently vanished from the store. Allen's keys were still on the store counter and her maroon station wagon was parked outside when police arrived.

There was no sign of a scuffle, money was still in the cash register and customers had left $9.50 on the counter for newspapers and gas. Allen, who friends and family describe as smart, strong and ambitious, worked at D&W Convenience store for about 2 1/2 years. Several employers across Oswego County received her resume in the days after she vanished because she was about to graduate from Onondaga Community College and was looking for a full-time job.

In May, 1994, Richard Thibodeau was arrested and charged with kidnapping, 1st degree in connection with the missing person case. In August of that same year, Gary Thibodeau, Richard's brother, was also arrested and faced the same charge.

In June, 1995, Gary was convicted of kidnapping, 1st degree. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in the New York State correctional system. Richard was found not guilty in September, 1995.


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Guest blog written by Heidi Allen's sister Lisa Buske.

My younger sister, Heidi, was eager to earn her college degree. So much so, that she doubled up, taking her last year of high school and her first year of college simultaneously. Despite the heavy load, Heidi was on track to graduate from Onondaga Community College in May 1994.

On the eve of Easter Sunday, Heidi and her boyfriend, Brett, delivered Easter goodies to our parents’ house. My husband, Ed, and I were there for dinner. Heidi sang an Easter favorite as she skipped into the house, teasing me in the process. She left laughing with a, “See you in the morning, Sis.” I smiled and told her, “Not if I see you first.”

The next morning, exactly one month before her graduation, Heidi was abducted while working alone at a local convenience store in New Haven, New York. She rang up her last transaction at 7:42 a.m. At age 18, her dreams and life came to an end. I never saw her again.

It’s been more than 25 years since I last saw my sister. She’ll always be 18 years old to me. Fond memories of Heidi are the only thing that keep me going. In the years after her abduction, I struggled to even get out bed. One thing that helped me put my feet on the floor was to remember Heidi’s contagious smile. It’s the thing her friends remember and miss the most. Her smile still helps me on the difficult days. Heidi put others before herself, even if it might make her life more challenging or pressed for time. Her selflessness taught me to put others first, too. Navigating this journey, as you can imagine, has not been easy. In addition to my memories of Heidi and my faith, I have also found strength through the years from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

NCMEC’s time and faithfulness continue to renew my family’s strength to persevere into an unknown future. The nonprofit organization helps families like mine stay the course and keep hope alive.
On Sept. 14, 2019, on what should be a celebration of my sister’s 44th birthday, we’ll have the blessing to experience NCMEC’s Mohawk Valley Ride for Missing Children which will be dedicated to Heidi. This is such an honor for my family and a beautiful way to remember Heidi on her birthday. It also instills hope to all the communities along the route, which will culminate at the Heidi Allen Remembrance Garden.

Two men were arrested in 1995 in Heidi’s abduction and tried separately. One was convicted to a 25-to-life sentence; the other acquitted. Both men have maintained their innocence, with the eldest dying in prison. No one has shared where Heidi is to help bring us resolve, peace and an end to this part of the journey. Our family’s greatest desire is the same today as it was on April 3, 1994: We want to bring her home.

With the help, encouragement and support of our friends, family and NCMEC, my family and I will continue searching and will never give up hope that one day we will find my sister.


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Heidi Allen opened the D&W Convenience store alone on the morning of April 3, 1994 at approx 5:45 a.m. The last recorded transaction recorded on the cash register was at 7:42 a.m. Heidi was discovered missing at approximately 8:15 a.m when a customer found the business unattended with no clerk was inside. All of Heidi's personal effects including her jacket, purse and car keys and vehicle were left behind at the store.

Heidi's final customer, Richard Thibodeau admitted to stopping by the store that morning to purchase two packs of cigarettes. After seeing a news report on Heidi's abduction, Thibodeau called the sheriff's office to report he was at the store. A witness named Christopher Bivens who was driving by the D&W Convenience store Easter morning reported he saw two men leading a young woman to a van with one of the men holding the woman in what appeared to be a bear hug. Richard Thibodeau owned a similar van at the time.

Richard Thibodeau quickly became a suspect in the case and was put under surveillance. Richard voluntarily gave fingerprint, blood and pubic hair samples to authorities. His van was searched and no trace of Heidi Allen was found. Authorities also began to focus on Richard's brother Gary Thibodeau who had an outstanding warrant on a minor drug charge in Massachusetts. Investigators questioned Gary who stated he was home asleep that morning to which his girlfriend corroborated. Nonetheless, Gary Thibodeau was then extradited back to Massachusetts and jailed. In prison Gary Thibodeau reportedly made incriminating statements to two inmates that Heidi was killed with a shovel that her body would never be found. One of the jail house informants, Baldasaro later said that one of the most incriminating statements from Thibodeau actually came second-hand from another inmate.

In May 1994, Richard Thibodeau was arrested and charged with kidnapping, In August Richard's brother Gary, was also arrested on the same charge. Separate jury trials were held for each brother, which resulted in Richard being acquitted and Gary Thibodeau being found guilty.

In August 2018, Gary Thibodeau died in prison before being granted the chance for a new trial. He maintained his innocence until the end.


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A summary of the case against the Thibodeau's.

The People's narrative as presented at defendant's trial was that defendant and Richard kidnapped the victim between 7:41 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. on Sunday, April 3, 1994 outside a convenience store where she worked, and put her in Richard's van, which defendant then drove away from the scene. The People presented no physical, forensic, or [*4]motive evidence to support defendant's involvement. Instead, the only evidence connecting defendant to the crime was testimony about the general appearance of one of the kidnappers—a description that matched defendant's appearance—and testimony from two inmates concerning comments defendant allegedly made about the victim while the three were briefly incarcerated together, though none of those comments constituted confessions to either kidnapping or murder.

One witness, John Swenszkowski, who made a purchase at the store at 7:41 a.m., testified that he saw a "pretty beat up van" with "a lot of rust" parked outside the store. He could not recall the color of the van. Upon leaving the store, Swenszkowski testified that he saw a man enter, whom he described as between 5'6" and 5'7", 145 pounds with a mustache. It is undisputed that this description fit Richard's appearance at the time. Swenszkowski further testified that, after over a minute had passed (during which he was settling into his car), he saw the van move forward several feet and stop. The People argued this established defendant was in the van while Richard was in the store [FN6]. Swenszkowski did not claim to have witnessed the kidnapping. He did not testify to seeing Richard interact with the victim, nor to seeing anyone place the victim into the van outside. Indeed, he never stated that he saw defendant at, or anywhere near, the store.

Another witness, John Stinson, testified that he arrived at the store at about 7:41 a.m. He did not see the victim or any other vehicle in the store parking lot. He flagged down an officer who sent a notice at 7:55 a.m. about the victim's disappearance. The officer found no signs of a struggle inside the store.

The only witness who claimed to see anyone interacting with the victim in the convenience store parking lot on the day of her disappearance was Christopher Bivens. Five days after the disappearance, Bivens told the police that as he drove by the store between 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on the day of the abduction, he saw two men and a woman arguing outside the store, near a vehicle, although he could not give a description of either the people or the vehicle. Ten days later—not long after a reward was posted—Bivens again spoke to the police. This time, he said that the van was light blue with dark trim. Richard's van was white, with black doors and a black stripe, and was rusted in certain places. Two days later, the police drove Bivens past Richard's van and Bivens told them the van's style matched, but that the color was wrong. The next day the police showed Bivens a photograph showing the side and back doors of Richard's van, and again Bivens stated that Richard's van was not the one he saw at the store. When the police then showed him a photograph of the van's black side doors, Bivens said he was still uncertain. The following day, for a third time, the police showed Bivens pictures of Richard's van. At that point, Bivens identified the van as the one he saw the day the victim was abducted.

At trial, Bivens testified that the woman he saw was the victim, one of the two men he saw was holding her in a bear hug, and the other man was walking towards the van. He described both men as 30 to 40 years old, 5'11", with husky builds, and the van as having a painted-on stripe and spots of rust. Other testimony established that defendant was between 5'8" and 5'10", and 150-190 pounds.

Nancy Fabian testified that at approximately 7:45 a.m., a van came up fast behind her, swerving back and forth. She saw a white male with dark hair and what appeared to be a beard and mustache driving while using his right arm to control something in the back of the van. Even though the abduction occurred in April, she reported this in June. Nancy had only been able to see the front of the van through her rearview mirror, and first described it as light blue with something in the middle, possibly a stripe. She then identified Richard's van from a photograph as the vehicle she saw that morning.

Prior to his arrest for the victim's kidnapping, defendant was arrested on an unrelated offense. At trial, two inmates who had been at the same out-of-state facility as defendant testified to statements he made regarding the victim's abduction, including that he knew the victim was dead and would not be found, that her head was bashed in with a shovel, and that, because there was no struggle at the store, she must have known the abductors. Defendant also allegedly stated that he and Richard spoke to the victim regarding a disagreement over a drug deal and drove her [*5]to the woods near his house to talk, after which Richard drove her back to the store. When Richard later went to the store, she was gone. According to these inmates, defendant would hear about the progression of the investigation from his brother and would pass details on to them. The two inmates never testified that defendant admitted to the victim's abduction, or to causing her any harm. On the contrary, their testimony amounted to defendant having last seen her alive and well, on her way back to the store.

Richard testified on behalf of defendant that he saw the news about the abduction the same day and called the police. Within a week, Richard had consented to a search of his van, which the police examined comprehensively. Carpeting from the van was analyzed by an FBI lab, but no blood was found, and the hairs and fibers collected did not match the victim, nor did the fingerprints found in the van. A forensic scientist testified at trial that if there had been a struggle—as had been suggested by the People's evidence—it was likely that there would have been some transfer of microscopic material from the victim to the van. No such material, however, was found. Finally, impressions of the van's tires did not match the impressions of tire marks found directly in front of the store, where multiple witnesses testified they had seen a van and where Bivens testified he had seen the victim abducted.

As with the testing of Richard's van, there was extensive analysis of defendant's home, and no evidence of the crime was found there either. The police and FBI's search and analysis of items from the house turned up no evidence linking defendant to the victim. This was not for lack of trying: material from defendant's furnace was tested and found to contain no evidence; bone fragments in a pile of soot were examined but proved not to be of human origin; and knives, saws, and a shovel were tested and found to contain no trace of the victim.

Defendant took the stand in his defense and testified that he was at his home with his girlfriend from late Saturday night through Sunday evening. Shortly after 10 a.m. on Sunday he received a call from Richard. His girlfriend, with whom he lived, testified to the same. Although three witnesses testified that Richard's van, or a van that matched its description, was at defendant's residence the morning of the victim's disappearance, defendant testified that he had no contact with his brother that day, and two of defendant's neighbors stated that they did not see or hear Richard's van at defendant's home that morning. Regarding the inmates' testimony, defendant acknowledged that he would receive updates from his brother about the investigation while in jail and would relay information from those conversations to the two men.

The jury returned a guilty verdict, and defendant's conviction was affirmed on appeal (People v Thibodeau, 267 AD2d 952 [4th Dept 1999], lv denied 95 NY2d 805 [2000]). Defendant's federal habeas corpus petition, which challenged the constitutionality of New York's first degree kidnapping statute on vagueness grounds, was denied (Thibodeau v Portuondo, 486 F3d 61 [2d Cir 2007]). Following defendant's conviction, a separate jury acquitted Richard, despite his admission to making the last purchase at the store before the victim's disappearance.


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Richard Thibodeau's van which the prosecution argued that both he and his brother Gary Thibodeau kidnapped Heidi with.

A witness Christopher Bivens testified he saw two men and a woman arguing outside the store near a vehicle on the morning of the abduction, at the time he described the van as being light blue with dark trim. Two days later, police drove Bivens past Richard's van in person to confirm if it was the same van he saw that morning. Bivens stated that while the van's style matched, the color was wrong. Police then showed him photographs of Richard's van showing the side and back doors to which Biven's stated that it was not the same van he saw at outside the store that day. Still uncertain, police showed Bivens more photos of Richard's van in which Bivens finally concluded that it was the same van he saw that morning.


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By Staff
Published September 17, 1995

A key prosecution witness in the trial of a man accused of kidnapping a store clerk admitted in court that he could not remember if some statements he made to police were correct.
Christopher Bivens, who testified for much of Friday in the first-degree kidnapping trial of Richard Thibodeau, admitted under cross-examination that he could not be sure of the veracity of certain statements he made to police regarding the April 1994 disappearance of Heidi Allen.

Oswego County prosecutors allege Richard Thibodeau kidnapped Ms. Allen, of New Haven, on Easter morning of that year from a convenience store where she worked. The first-degree charge assumes that Ms. Allen is dead.

Thibodeau's brother, Gary, was convicted in June of the same charge and is serving 25 years to life in prison.

Bivens, 39, of Scriba, has testified he saw a man grab a woman outside the store that morning, but some of his testimony on the color of the van he saw and the weather that day has been inconsistent.


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This article provides a good indroduction into the new suspects, theories and cast of characters involved in this case. I added some extra info on each character.

Sources: Who's who in the Heidi Allen case: The victim, suspects, witnesses and lawyers

Heidi Allen
Heidi Allen, 18, was kidnapped from the New Haven convenience store where she worked on Easter morning 1994. She has never been found.

Gary Thibodeau
Gary Thibodeau was convicted in 1995 of kidnapping and presumably killing Heidi Allen and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. He died in prison in 2018 maintaining his innocence.

Richard Thibodeau
Gary Thibodeau's brother, Richard was acquitted of kidnapping Heidi Allen in a separate trial in 1995.

Tonya Priest
Tonya Preist is the woman who notified the Oswego County Sheriff's Office in February 2013 that James ''Thumper'' Steen confessed to her in 2006 that he, Roger Breckenridge and Michael Bohrer kidnapped and killed Heidi Allen and beat her to death in a garage next to Breckenridge's girlfriend's trailer.

James 'Thumper' Steen
Roger Breckenridge allegedly confessed to Tonya Priest and three others that he was involved in Heidi Allen's disappearance. He murdered his estranged wife, Vicki Steen, and her boyfriend, Charles Carr, in 2010 and was sentenced to prison for the rest of his life, without the possibility of parole. He denied to sheriff's investigators in 2013 that he was involved in Allen's disappearance.

Jennifer Wescott
Jennifer Wescott admitted to Tonya Priest in a secretly recorded phone call that three men brought Heidi Allen to her home in a van after she was abducted. She was the girlfriend of one of the alleged suspects. She has since recanted all her statements.

Roger Breckenridge
Roger Breckenridge is Jennifer Wescott's former boyfriend who James Steen said was also involved in the kidnapping and killing of Heidi Allen. Breckenridge is in prison for stealing two antique tractors. His earliest parole date is June 24, 2015. He denied to sheriff's investigators in 2013 that he was involved in Allen's disappearance.

Michael Bohrer
Michael Bohrer is the third man James Steen allegedly implicated as being involved in the abduction. Bohrer was involved in an attempted abduction of a woman outside of a Milwaukee bar in 1981. Another man says Bohrer boasted at a bar in 2000 that he knew where Allen's body was hidden. He denied to sheriff's investigators in 2013 that he was involved in Allen's disappearance. Bohrer asserted himself into the investigation very early on by posing as a journalist interviewing Heidi's family members as well as the Thibodeau brothers.

Catherine Schmitt
Catherine Schmitt was the victim of an attempted abduction by Michael Bohrer from a Milwaukee restaurant one night in 1981. She alleges that Bohrer and another man grabbed her by behind and started choking her and tried to force her into his car. That was 13 years before Heidi Allen was kidnapped.

Danielle Babcock
Babcock, who worked for Michael Bohrer in the 1990s at a computer repair business, said he told her and other female employees "he would do us like he did Heidi."

Carl Robinson
Robinson, a former friend of Jennifer Wescott, testified she told him "they had the wrong guy in prison" when they talked about the Heidi Allen kidnapping. But Wescott explained to him she wouldn't disclose what she knew because "I don't want to end up the next one dead in a box in the woods."
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Sheriff Reuel Todd
He was the undersheriff when Heidi Allen was kidnapped and was elected sheriff four years later in 1998. Todd says he's convinced Gary and Richard Thibodeau are guilty. He said Tonya Priest's allegations were not credible. His investigators failed to find two cabins in the woods after being told that James Steen had allegedly confessed Allen's body was hidden in the floorboards of a cabin there. "There's no cabin," Todd said. "Never has been a cabin."


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Aunt: Heidi Allen made deal with police to avoid charges
by Alexander Dunbar
Saturday, October 31st 2015

For 20 years after Heidi Allen disappeared, there were questions about whether or not she had been a confidential drug informant. Allen disappeared from her job at a convenience store on Easter Sunday 1994. Last year, court filings showed she had an informant I.D. Card and a codename, along with a 20 year-old report from the sheriff's department saying Allen volunteered to be an informant.

During a recent interview with sheriff's investigators, Heidi Allen's aunt revealed more about her informant status including information her aunt says had been kept hidden.

Heidi Allen's aunt, Martha Sturtz, met with Oswego County Sheriff's investigators on September 8. In a recorded interview, Sturtz says Allen (who was then 15 years old) had been babysitting her cousin Mellissa Searles' child at a house on Pleasant Point road near Lake Ontario in the early 1990s. Sturtz says Allen was often babysitting late into the night.

"Heidi got so she was staying there instead of coming home and got in with the whole group. My sister, that has passed away now, got called to Pleasant Point for a party they had down there, this was before there were many places down there they were having a booze party," said Sturtz.

When police arrived at the Point Pleasant house, Sturtz says they contacted Heidi Allen's mother.

"She got called because Heidi was only 15 and had the baby she was watching in the car asleep, you know, so my sister went and got it and that's how my husband got involved, she was at these parties," said Sturtz.

Her husband (and Heidi Allen's uncle) is Russell Sturtz. Sturtz was a town justice in New Haven. Martha Sturtz told investigators tension between Allen and her parents led to a "Person in Need of Supervision" petition for Allen - also known as a PINS petition. Sturtz says her husband intervened to help his teenage niece.

"She was at these parties and so she wouldn't get in trouble, he contacted... well you know that part. He contacted somebody and talked to her about doing a PINS and if she gave them information, they wouldn't charge her," said Sturtz.

During testimony at Gary Thibodeau's appeal, the deputies who signed Allen up as a confidential informant in 1991 say she did so voluntarily to help a friend. The deputies never indicated Allen had made a deal to provide information or was working as an informant to avoid prosecution. In a court filing, Gary Thibodeau's attorney says this is the first time she has been made aware of a potential informant deal. Martha Sturtz told investigators the family kept the information under wraps even when she went missing. Sturtz said Heidi Allen was not living at home when she disappeared and she had been living with another aunt and grandmother for five or six months.

"We kind of kept all that hidden because it was connected to Melissa and the drug stuff that she was into and got Heidi involved in, and Heidi got in all this trouble," said Sturtz.


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Heidi Allen was exposed as confidential drug informant on card cop lost before teen was kidnapped

By John O'Brien | jobrien@syracuse.com

OSWEGO, N.Y. - Sometime before Heidi Allen was kidnapped in 1994, an Oswego County sheriff's deputy accidentally exposed her as his confidential drug informant.
Allen was working with Deputy Chris Van Patten, who'd carried a 3 x 5-inch index card with him that listed her as a confidential informant, and he clipped a photo of her to the card, according to a report he wrote in 1994.

On some date, Van Patten didn't know when, the investigator unknowingly dropped the 3 x 5 card and Allen's photo while using the pay phone at the convenience store where Allen worked -- the place where she was kidnapped.

Van Patten was off-duty when he got a call from another deputy saying a store employee had found the lost confidential material and turned it over to the deputy, the report said.
That revelation is among the most startling new allegations an attorney included in court papers to be filed today that seek to overturn the conviction of a man imprisoned 20 years for kidnapping Allen.

Prosecutors did not turn over Van Patten's Dec. 9, 1994, report about the index card to the lawyer for Gary Thibodeau before his trial in 1995, alleged Thibodeau's new lawyer, Federal Public Defender Lisa Peebles. She plans to cite that today as one reason why Thibodeau's kidnapping conviction should be overturned.

In his one-page report, Van Patten did not say what date he lost the index card or when it was recovered.

"At an unknown time, this reporter used that phone at the D&W Store located at the intersection of STR 104 and 104B," Van Patten wrote in the one-page report. "During this time frame, unknown to this reporter, I dropped the 3X5 index card and the photo of Heidi."

The exposure of Allen as an informant would've presented Thibodeau's lawyer, Joseph Fahey, with a possible defense, Peebles said. Fahey could've argued that drug dealers kidnapped her, Peebles said.

Peebles, along with a Syracuse.com reporter, discovered the index card report among seven boxes of documents that Thibodeau's brother, Richard, provided to them. Prosecutors had turned over the report to Richard's lawyer after Gary was convicted, Peebles said.

But Fahey told Peebles last week he never saw or heard of the report or the dropped index card until recently, Peebles said. She plans to file an affidavit from Fahey with her court papers seeking to overturn Gary's conviction.

Fahey, now an Onondaga County Court judge, said he could not comment because judicial rules bar him from discussing pending cases.

The Thibodeaus' prosecutor, then-Assistant District Attorney Donald Dodd, denied Tuesday that he withheld any evidence from Fahey that could have benefited the defense.

"That material was scrupulously and exhaustively provided to the attorney representing Gary Thibodeau at the time," said Dodd, who's a lawyer in private practice.

He said he would have to review Peebles' filing to comment on whether the Van Patten report specifically was given to Fahey. Van Patten, who's no longer a deputy, could not be reached for comment.

Fahey did raise questions before Thibodeau's trial about whether Allen was a drug informant for the sheriff's office, according to The Post-Standard's archives.

Sheriff's officials said at the time that Allen had talked to sheriff's investigators in 1992 about possibly informing on a drug deal involving a friend, but the case never went anywhere, and the information she gave was never used. The information did not involve the Thibodeaus, those officials said.

In pre-trial hearings, Oswego County Judge John Brandt directed the district attorney to disclose to the Thibodeaus' lawyers all information about Allen's possible activities as an informant, the archives show.

Then-Undersheriff Reuel Todd said at the time that the sheriff's office had no formal "confidential informant" file on Allen because Allen was not really an informant, according to the archives.

Members of Allen's family also told reporters in 1995 that as far as they knew, Allen was not a police informant.

After one jury convicted Gary Thibodeau that year, another jury acquitted Richard Thibodeau. The report on the dropped index card didn't surface in Richard's trial, according to archives of The Post-Standard. Richard Thibodeau said Tuesday the issue never came up in his trial.

New potential suspects
Peebles' filing will also argue that Gary Thibodeau's conviction should be overturned based on newly discovered evidence that points to three other suspects.

A witness told sheriff's investigators 17 months ago that James Steen confessed to her that he helped two other men - Roger Breckenridge and Michael Bohrer - kidnap and kill Allen and disposed of her body in the floorboards of a cabin. All three men have denied any involvement in Allen's disappearance and have not been charged.

Bohrer, however, did mention the dropped confidential informant index card to a Syracuse.com reporter during an interview last month.

Sitting outside his trailer in Parish, Bohrer told the reporter that he spent a lot of time investigating Allen's death and believed she was abducted by drug dealers, not the Thibodeaus.

"That was weird to suddenly come up with that ID card in the parking lot," Bohrer said in a recorded interview.

"Oh, you saw that?" the reporter asked.

"Well, it was in the news," Bohrer said. The reporter told him that it had not been.

"It may have been - no, I don't think that was," Bohrer said. The reporter told him it never came up in the trials either. Bohrer, who said he'd read through all the police reports and transcripts, agreed that the index card didn't come up in the trials.

So how did he hear about something that even Gary Thibodeau's lawyer did not?

"Word of mouth," Bohrer said.


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Oswego County Sheriff's Office Deputy Christopher Van Patten, shown in a file photo from 1999, was the officer who accidentally lost an index card identifying Heidi Allen as a confidential drug informant sometime before the 18-year-old was kidnapped in 1994.

Heidi's informant card with her photograph on it was dropped outside her workplace at the D&W Convenience Store in January 1992.
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Deputy blabbed about informant before Heidi Allen kidnapping, new witness says
Updated Mar 22, 2019; Posted Feb 05, 2015
By John O'Brien | jobrien@syracuse.com

PARISH, N.Y. -- A new witness in the 1994 Heidi Allen kidnapping case says an Oswego County sheriff's deputy disclosed sensitive information about a confidential informant sometime before Allen's abduction.

Deputy Chris Van Patten was at Champ's Corner bar in Hastings when he told Brian Mensch about a young female confidential informant who was working for him in the New Haven area, Mensch told sheriff's investigators last week. Van Patten never identified the informant by name, Mensch said.

"He told me, myself, which I thought was odd.. that they had a girl from New Haven that was a CI that they were using in there and they were getting ready to do a big bust over there," said Mensch, who was a disc jockey at the bar.

"And then -- wham! -- the Heidi Allen thing comes down," Mensch said in the recorded interview with two investigators Jan. 26 at Mensch's home in Parish.

"Chris told you that?" Investigator James Pietroski asked.

"Chris told me this," Mensch said.

Mensch initially said the conversation with Van Patten was in 1993 or 1994. Later in the interview, he said it was 1992 or 1993.

Van Patten said the informant was in school at the time and that she "was giving them information about the drug scene, the parties at the school," Mensch told the investigators, who were pursuing leads in the Heidi Allen case.

After Allen's kidnapping, Mensch "put two and two together" and realized she was the informant Van Patten was talking about, Mensch told the investigators. Allen was 18 when she was kidnapped Easter morning 1994 while working at a convenience store in New Haven in Oswego County. Her remains have never been found.

The interview recording was filed by District Attorney Gregory Oakes last week as part of a hearing to determine whether Gary Thibodeau's conviction for kidnapping Allen should be overturned.

Her status as a confidential informant has been a focus of Thibodeau's hearing. Allen offered to help the sheriff's office investigate drug-use in the Mexico high school in 1991, according to police reports.

"Why was he telling you that?" Pietroski asked Mensch of his conversation with Van Patten.

"Just idle chit-chat," Mensch said.

A woman who answered the door at Mensch's home told syracuse.com he had no comment.

Thibodeau was the only person convicted of kidnapping and presumably killing Allen. His brother Richard was acquitted in a separate trial.

The hearing is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. today in Oswego County Court.

Gary Thibodeau's lawyer, Lisa Peebles, has argued that his jury likely would have acquitted him if he'd had access to evidence related to Allen's work as a confidential informant -- particularly the public disclosure of her position.

His former lawyer, Joseph Fahey, testified in the hearing that if he'd had that information, he would have used it to suggest other people had a reason to harm Allen.

In January 1992, Van Patten accidentally dropped a photo of Allen and an index card in the parking lot of the D&W Convenience store in New Haven, according to sheriff's reports. The card had information indicating she was a confidential informant. Allen was kidnapped from the store two years later.

Van Patten, who no longer works for the sheriff's office, could not be reached for comment.

Sheriff Reuel Todd testified this week that no confidential informant's identity was ever compromised by his department.

The investigators questioned Mensch because a woman had told a prosecutor that Mensch had information about the case.He denied the information the woman attributed to him, but volunteered the information about Van Patten's disclosure.

Mensch, 43, is a former member of the Vicious Circle motorcycle club, which has surfaced in the Allen case. Megan Shaw testified in the hearing that possible new suspect James Steen told her he'd helped dispose of Allen's body as a way to get into the club.

Mensch denied to investigators that the motorcycle club was involved. He said the club wasn't established until 2006.

Steen, who is serving a term of life in prison for the 2010 murder of his wife and her boyfriend, has denied having anything to do with Allen's disappearance. He has not been charged.


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Heidi Allen feared request to snitch on cocaine dealers before 1994 kidnapping, co-worker says
Updated Mar 22, 2019; Posted Oct 05, 2015
By John O'Brien | jobrien@syracuse.com

Heidi Allen, 18, of the town of New Haven, was abducted Easter morning 1994 from the Oswego County convenience store where she worked. Her body has never been found.

OSWEGO, N.Y. -- Shortly before she was kidnapped, Heidi Allen told a friend she was working as a drug informant and was afraid because investigators wanted information on more serious narcotics, a new witness says.

An affidavit from Rhonda Burr, who used to work with Allen, could conflict with testimony from Oswego County sheriff's officials that their office never used any information Allen gave them as a confidential informant. Burr gave an affidavit last week to a lawyer for Gary Thibodeau, the only person convicted in Allen's 1994 kidnapping. His lawyer, Lisa Peebles, told a judge she wants to call Burr as a witness in an ongoing hearing to determine whether Thibodeau should get a new trial.

Peebles is trying to prove prosecutors withheld evidence from Thibodeau's trial lawyers about the extent of Allen's work as a confidential informant. Peebles contends defense lawyers could've used that information to show others had a motive to kidnap Allen.

Burr said in the affidavit she and Allen became friends while they were working at the D&W Convenience Store in New Haven. Burr worked there from 1992 to 1994 and quit about three weeks before Allen was abducted from the store April 3, 1994.

Allen used to go to Burr's house after work and confide in her, the affidavit said. It was then that Allen revealed she was working as a confidential informant for the sheriff's office, Burr said. Allen said she was attending parties and reporting back to the sheriff's office about marijuana-dealing and underage drinking, Burr wrote.

"Not long before she was abducted, Heidi told me that the Sheriff's Department wanted her to 'nail' people for coke-dealing and she was afraid," Burr's affidavit said. Allen said she feared she would have to use cocaine herself, Burr wrote.

"I recall telling Heidi to get out of that crowd and stop informing because I thought it was too dangerous for her," the affidavit said.

Burr contacted Peebles last week after seeing a news story on the case that referred to her only by her first name. Allen's boyfriend, Brett Law, told investigators that Allen and a friend named Rhonda had told him Allen was afraid of a cocaine-user who lived near the store.

Burr said she doesn't recall telling Law that, but does remember Allen revealing her fears about working as an informant.

Sheriff's deputies interviewed Burr shortly after the kidnapping, she said. They told her they had no record of her working at the store and "never took much information from me," her affidavit said.

"I never said anything to the sheriff's investigators about Heidi's informant status because I figured they obviously knew about (it), since she was working for them and I certainly did not want to put myself in jeopardy," the affidavit said.

Burr, 51, declined to comment to Syracuse.com

Burr's affidavit undermines the testimony of sheriff's officials at Thibodeau's hearing, Peebles said in a letter to acting Oswego County Judge Daniel King.

Sheriff Reuel Todd and two former deputies testified Allen was never used as an informant. Todd was undersheriff when Allen was kidnapped. His deputies told him then that Allen was never used as a confidential informant.

"That was my understanding due to the fact that my underlings had told me that," Todd testified in February at the Thibodeau hearing.

Todd did not respond today to phone and email requests for an interview.

Former sheriff's deputy Chris VanPatten testifed at the hearing that he'd met with Allen in 1991 and filled out paperwork for her to work as a confidential informant.

"I didn't use any of her information that she shared with me," VanPatten testified. "She was never used in any capacity as far as furthering the investigation to the drug activity. Nothing was used."

Two years before the kidnapping, VanPatten dropped an index card with Allen's photo and code name on it in the parking lot of the D&W. Thibodeau's lawyers contend that public exposure of her status as a drug informant was never disclosed to his trial lawyers.

Another former deputy, Michael Anderson, testified that he met with Allen in 1991, but her information about drugs was useless.

"The best way I could describe it was kid stuff," Anderson testified. "'One of my friends is getting into drugs.' 'Can I get a name?' "No... I'm at parties sometimes and I see my friends getting involved and I don't like it.' That was it."

Investigators never used her as a confidential informant, Anderson testified.


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James 'Thumper' Steen described as a violent braggart capable of kidnapping Heidi Allen
Updated Mar 22, 2019; Posted Oct 05, 2014

While he serves a life sentence in prison for the double murders, Steen has been identified by witnesses as a possible suspect in the most infamous Oswego County crime in decades - the 1994 kidnapping and presumed killing of Heidi Allen - based partly on his own words.

Over the past 1 1/2 years, four people have given sworn statements saying Steen confessed to them he was involved in the kidnapping or the disposal of Allen's body or the van she was abducted in.

Steen denies those allegations and has not been charged.

The Oswego County Sheriff's Office decided the accusations against Steen were false, Sheriff Reuel Todd said in July. But a lawyer for Gary Thibodeau, the man convicted of kidnapping Allen, has brought the case back to court, contending new evidence pointing to Steen and others should set Thibodeau free.

Steen's murders of his wife and her boyfriend have provided a villain for Thibodeau's lawyers to point to as they try to overturn Thibodeau's conviction.


Mannino said Steen bragged to him in 2011 that he'd hauled a van to Canada after drug gang members kidnapped Allen in it. Steen did not say she was in the crushed van,

Mannino said. Steen and Mannino were in adjacent cells at the Oswego County Jail, Mannino said.

Steen told him Thibodeau and his brother, Richard, were not involved, Mannino said.

"He said the wrong people were done for it," Mannino said.

A jury convicted Thibodeau
in 1995 and he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. His brother Richard was acquitted in a separate trial. Mannino said he'd known Steen as a friend for about 10 years. Mannino said he does not know the Thibodeaus.

Steen confessions
Besides Mannino, three others have signed sworn statements saying that over the past eight years Steen has bragged about his involvement in the Allen kidnapping. Each alleged confession was different - from merely hauling the van away to actually beating the 18-year-old convenience store clerk to death and hiding her body.

The first accuser, Tonya Priest, in 2013 told Oswego County sheriff's investigators that Steen told her in 2006 that he, Roger Breckenridge and Michael Bohrer kidnapped Allen, beat her to death in a garage next to Breckenridge's girlfriend's trailer, and hid her body under a cabin.

In a secretly recorded phone call, monitored by police, Breckenridge's former girlfriend admitted to Priest that the three men brought Allen to her home in a van.

Megan Shaw, another former friend of Steen's, also has told sheriff's investigators Steen admitted to her he helped hide Allen's body. She said Steen made the admissions in 2010 as his relationship with his wife deterioriated and he talked about wanting to kill her.

"He was coming over to our place to vent about her, because (Chuck Jr.) was his cousin," Shaw told Syracuse.com in June. "He was talking about how he wanted to kill Vicki. I kept saying 'You can't do that.' He always seemed like a nice guy to me."

Steen told her that, yes, he was the killer type, Shaw said. To prove the point, he told her about disposing of Allen's body, Shaw said.

Steen told Priest, Shaw and Mannino that Allen was targeted because the drug gang knew she was a police informant, according to their statements.

Steen said he dismembered Allen's body and hid it under floorboards of a cabin in the Parish area, Shaw and Priest said.

Two months ago, sheriff's deputies searched two collapsed cabins in the area Priest and Shaw described, but found no evidence of Allen's remains.

Steen denials
Steen denies all of it. In a letter to Syracuse.com, he called Priest a liar and "immature bitch."

"I had nothing to do with Heidi Allen," Steen said in the handwritten letter, dated Aug. 14, from Auburn state prison. "The sheriff's (deputies) came and talked to me and I told them the same thing. How is it that you believe Tonya's big lie?"

Steen, 43, initially agreed to an interview with Syracuse.com. But he backed out at the last minute.

Sheriff Todd said his investigators visited Steen in prison last year to ask him about the accusations of Priest and Shaw. Steen's lawyer was with him, Todd said. Steen signed an affidavit denying any involvement in Allen's disappearance.

Afterward, sheriff's investigators concluded that Priest was making up stories and did not charge Steen, Breckenridge or Bohrer.

"We talked extensively with James Steen," Todd said in a July 22 interview with Syracuse.com. The double murder "was a crime of passion, the whole thing, and he was very, afterwards, distraught over the fact he did it. It was just a moment of passion... And from what everybody tells us, actually he was not a bad guy."


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Jennifer Wescott's secretly recorded phone conversation with Tonya Priest where she stated that three men brought Heidi Allen to her home but made her sit in the van. Wescott has since recanted all of her statements.

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