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Gary Thibodeau, convicted of kidnapping Heidi Allen in 1994, dead at 63

Payne Horning
WRVO News (file photo)
A flier for information about Heidi Allen hangs at the Oswego County Sheriff's Department

Gary Thibodeau, who had been serving 25 years to life in state prison for kidnapping Heidi Allen from a New Haven convenience store in 1994, has died at the age of 63. 

Thibodeau died Sunday at the Coxsackie Correctional Facility near Albany, according to his lawyer Lisa Peebles. Thibodeau had been suffering from a chronic lung condition. Last year, the medical staff at Coxsackie said Thibodeau had less than six months to live.

Thibodeau had maintained his innocence over the years. He and his brother Richard were charged with kidnapping Allen from the D&W conveinience store she worked at on Easter morning in 1994. Gary Thibodeau was found guilty of kidnapping Allen. Richard Thibodeau was found innocent. Allen's body was never found. 

In 2014, there was renewed hope for Thibodeau. Peebles said new evidence showed that three other men, not Thibodeau, were responsible for Allen's disappearance. 

But after more than a year of hearings, a judge denied Peebles' request for a new trial in 2016, saying the evidence presented wasn't credible enough to grant a new trial.

"We’ve seen the tenor of the court’s decision in connection with the other motions we filed in the case," Peebles said after the decision was released. "This isn’t rocket science. You could sit and listen to the hearing and you knew which way he was going to rule from the beginning. This was not a surprise. It’s just unfortunate that it took this long."

Peebles brought the case before the New York State Court of Appeals in April of this year, but the court denied the appeal in a 4-3 decision released in June

The majority wrote in its decision that the newly discovered evidence "was comprised of uncorroborated hearsay" that the lower courts were right to reject. 

In its dissent, Judge Jenny Rivera said that the evidence provided during Thibodeau's trial was "not overwhelming," and that statements from three men, Roger Breckenridge, James Steen, and Michael Bohrer, were enough to grant Thibodeau a new trial. 

Peebles had been planning a federal appeal, but Thibodeau's death means the case will be closed, and Thibodeau will remain the man convicted of kidnapping Allen. 

Jason has served as WRVO's news director in some capacity since August 2017. As news director, Jason produces hourly newscasts, and helps direct local news coverage and special programming. Before that, Jason hosted Morning Edition on WRVO from 2009-2019. Jason came to WRVO in January of 2008 as a producer/reporter. Before that, he spent two years as an anchor/reporter at WSYR Radio in Syracuse.