OSWEGO, NY – September is a bittersweet month for many people involved in the Heidi Allen kidnapping case.
For the Allen family, each September brings another birthday for Heidi, the 1994 kidnapping victim that has been missing since her disappearance from her then job at a convenience store.
Allen, who has been missing since she was 18 years old, would have turned 40 this year.
Since her disappearance that Easter Sunday morning in 1994 from the D&W Convenience Store in New Haven, Allen’s family has tried relentlessly to find answers to her whereabouts.
Leading the search for answers was Heidi’s mother, Sue Allen, alongside her husband, Ken, Heidi’s sister, Lisa Buske and the rest of Heidi’s family, friends, loved ones and an entire community seeking justice.
Although Heidi’s mother, Sue, did not find the answers she so desperately sought, she was able to reunite with her lost daughter on her 40th birthday, September 14, 2015, according to sister Lisa’s blog post.
“We sang Happy Birthday to Heidi, as a family around her so she knew today is Heidi’s birthday. I said a prayer for her, for the reunion she has waited more than 21 years for, and for our family, friends, and community. She relaxed and a peaceful sleep entered,” said Lisa on the day of her mother’s passing on her blog at Lisambuske.com.
She went on to explain that her mother was unexpectedly diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal cancer earlier in the summer.
Sue held on through the summer right up until Heidi’s birthday, according to Lisa.
“On Friday, Mom asked, ‘What is today?’ We told her, ‘Friday.’ Then she asked, ‘When is Heidi’s birthday?’ to which we responded…on Monday. She said, ‘Okay’ and closed her eyes. This was one of the last conversations we had before she went into a comfortable and pain-free sleep,” said Lisa in her blog post.
Now, more than 21 years after the abduction of her daughter, Sue has been reunited with her daughter on Heidi’s 40th birthday.
“Happy 40th Birthday Heidi, For your birthday, God gifted you Mom. We love and miss you both,” said a picture posted to Lisa’s blog.
Heidi’s disappearance 21 years ago shook an entire community and continued to impact another local family these more than 20 years later.
September also brings similar bittersweet feelings for the family of the only man who has answered to charges on the kidnapping case, Gary Thibodeau.
In September of 1995, Gary’s brother, Richard, was acquitted of the kidnapping, 1st degree charge brought against him in regards to Heidi’s disappearance.
While Richard and his family viewed the acquittal as nothing short of obvious, they are constantly aware of Gary’s conviction and the 20 plus years he has since spent in state prison.
Gary was convicted by a separate jury from his brother’s on the kidnapping, 1st degree charge and was sentenced to 25 years to life in New York State Correctional facility in June of 1995.
He has spent the following 20 years in prison and has maintained his innocence all the while.
In July 2014, Federal Public Defender Lisa Peebles, representing Gary Thibodeau, filed an order to vacate the judgement of conviction based on new evidence and claims of prosecutors withholding evidence in the original trial.
The hearing is still on going and is being presented to acting Oswego County Judge, Daniel King.
Meanwhile, Gary Thibodeau, 61, continues his 25 years to life sentence at Clinton Correctional Facility while his family including his brother, Richard and Richard’s wife, Theresa, and their daughter, Amanda along with the rest of his family continue fighting for his release.
“In my eyes and my family’s eyes, there should have never been a trial for them in the first place. We’ve known the truth from the beginning, their innocence. It’s not about my dad anymore, it’s about my uncle Gary and his case. We need to stay focused on him and what is going on now,” said Gary’s niece, Amanda Crawford. “It’s just been unfair for everyone from the beginning. We all deserve to know what really happened.”
Stay tuned to OswegoCountyToday.com for more information on the case and the hearing as it is provided.