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Episode 2: The Trials

Ryan Zalduondo
Richard Thibodeau's van.

Richard Thibodeau’s arrest on May 25, 1994 for kidnapping Heidi Allen changed a lot of things in New Haven, New York.


[You can catch up on last week's episode, if you missed it. We cover Allen's disappearance and the initial arrests of Richard and Gary.]

Richard, who maintained his innocence from the moment he was arrested, had to start getting prepared for his trial that was set to begin during the summer of 1995.

A few months later, Richard’s younger brother Gary had to get ready for a trial of his own, following a July arrest for kidnapping Heidi Allen with Richard. Gary was arrested because of two jailhouse informants who claimed Gary had a hand in the kidnapping. Gary was in jail for a drug charge in Massachusetts on May 25, 1994.

“When he got back here, they put him in jail here in Oswego County, and so was I,” Richard Thibodeau said. “I was too. They got these two inmates to come up from Massachusetts and at the time Donald Dodd, the DA, was preparing them for court. For trial ... Setting them up to testify against my brother.”

"They got these two inmates to come up from Massachusetts and at the time Donald Dodd, the DA, was preparing them for court. For trial ... Setting them up to testify against my brother."

Evidence was gathered against both brothers. Gary went on trial first and was convicted for the first degree kidnapping of Heidi Allen based on statements from the jailhouse informants.

Richard went next, with a different jury. With the lack of jailhouse informants against him, he got acquitted.

With Heidi still missing, there was no physical evidence to use at trial. The Thibodeau brothers maintaining their innocence and the different results of the trials raised more questions.

Next week on "The Heidi Allen Case: Central New York's Most Enduring Mystery," more information gives new life to the case. Listen online, on iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Editor's note: We have been alerted to a few inaccuracies in this episode. As a result, host Ryan Zalduondo, and editors Catherine Loper and Jason Smith would like to make the following clarifications.

1. In Episode 2, Zalduondo said that Richard Thibodeau's van "was searched April 9th, and we already know they found nothing. Seriously, they found nothing. There was no DNA. Not Heidi’s, not Richard’s, not Gary’s, nobody’s. That’s something that’s hard to grasp. Law enforcement claims when they searched the van, they found no DNA at all."

Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oakes indicated that no DNA was found in the van. But, the FBI did find material in the van, including hairs and fibers. But none of the material found contained any DNA from Heidi Allen and the hairs found in the van were determined to not be from Heidi.

2. In the episode, it was reported that Nancy Fabian "recalled seeing a van following closely behind her car at approximately 7:45 that morning at the intersection the gas station is on. She said the van was driving erratically, as if the driver was struggling with something inside."

Fabian spotted a van behind her at the intersection of Route 104 and Route 3, which is in the village of Mexico, not at the intersection where the D&W convenience store is located.

3. In the episode, Zalduondo said "the two jailhouse informants [Robert Baldasaro and James McDonald] also claimed that Gary said he killed Heidi Allen with a military style shovel, and discarded her body in a place it would never be found by law enforcement."

To clarify, Baldasaro and McDonald testified that Gary said that Heidi was killed with his shovel and law enforcement would never find her, not that Gary said he killed Heidi.

We apologize for any incorrect information presented. Again, it is not our intention to solve the case, or present anyone as guilty or innocent. This is simply a retelling of the story as it unfolded. The audio from this episode has been updated to reflect the clarifications noted above.