Officials in Oswego County have ended their search of a collapsed clubhouse in Mexico without finding anything linking the property to the disappearance 20 years ago of Heidi Allen.
"There was never any credible evidence that Heidi Allen's remains would be found here, but based on certain tips we did come here to make sure that we exhausted every possibility and left no stone unturned," said Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes.
Allen was 18 years old when she was kidnapped from the D&W Convenience Store in New Haven on Easter Sunday in 1994, about two hours after opening the store alone. A little more than a year later, Gary Thibodeau was convicted of kidnapping Allen and has been in prison ever since.
This week, the Oswego County sheriff's department, district attorney's office, highway department, state police and Onondaga County medical examiner's office all participated in the search of the site, looking for any traces of Allen's remains.
Early in the search, a cadaver dog, which is trained to search for human remains, gave two alerts. Oakes said they didn't lead to any evidence.
"When we talked to the canine handler, he had indicated that because the property had been disturbed, there was less than an ideal situation for the dog to make a detection," said Oakes. "And at this point, it appears there was a false detection by the dog. Again, there is no evidence that there are or ever have been any remains at the site."
Oakes says the disturbance to the clubhouse was caused by a couple who admitted they had visited the site after reading news reports about the case.
The search's conclusion come only one day after Lisa Peebles, the federal public defender for Gary Thibodeau, filed a motion in court asking that his case be overturned. She cites new evidence that has come up, including evidence that Allen was a confidential drug informant. Peebles alleges that prosecutors during the 1995 trial never gave Thibodeau's defense lawyer that information.
"I can't understand what happened 20 years ago, but it blows my mind that that information was never given to the defense or that it was not made aware to the jury," Peebles said. "They had no idea. It would have provided a motive. We don't know who the people were that she [Allen] provided names about in terms of her cooperation."
Oakes says the motion filed this week by Peebles could take weeks or months to be heard and decided. The case has not yet been assigned to a judge.