© 2021 WRVO Public Media
Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Regional News

Hearing in Heidi Allen case resumes this morning


The Oswego County court hearing in the 20-year old case of missing teenager Heidi Allen resumes today after a two-week break. Gary Thibodeau, who was convicted of kidnapping Allen, has always maintained his innocence. WRVO news director Catherine Loper interviewed Syracuse Post-Standard reporter John O'Brien, who has been covering the story non-stop since last May, and has been in the courtroom everyday of this hearing.

Loper: I want to start by asking you to explain what the purpose of this hearing is in the Heidi Allen case?

O’Brien: It’s a hearing and it’s on Gary Thibodeau’s request to have his kidnapping conviction overturned based on newly discovered evidence and on his claim that the prosecutors, twenty years ago, withheld evidence that might have implicated other people as the kidnappers.

Loper: If you can catch us up about what has been said about what that evidence is?

O’Brien: Ok. Well, we’ve had 17 witnesses. I think about six of them so far have testified that one of three other men have implicated themselves in admissions to these witnesses that they were involved in the kidnapping or killing or disposal of the body of Heidi Allen. We did have one new witness come forward during the hearing who called me and said the first time that he saw what he thinks was Heidi being kidnapped on that day in 1994, and he never came forward to the police until this past July. That’s the one new person from back then that we’ve heard from.

Loper: Do you think he will be called?

O’Brien: He will be called. Yes, he will definitely be testifying, according to Gary Thibodeau’s lawyer, Lisa Peebles. She plans to call him, and that should be interesting.

Loper: I’m curious to see how this rates among all the cases that you’ve covered in your reporting career?

O’Brien: It is the most interesting, and it’s the most twists in any criminal case I’ve ever seen. I’m just riveted by it myself every day. There’s so many mysteries here, and the biggest one is, you know, [that] Heidi has never been found. She’s just disappeared.

You can follow John O'Brien's reporting from the Oswego County courtroom at Syracuse.com.

Hear the complete interview with John O'Brien and Catherine Loper