The Oswego County District Attorney says his office flew in an out-of-state witness last year after it was revealed she was secretly recorded talking about the 1994 Heidi Allen disapperance case. In the phone call, Jennifer Wescott revealed her then-boyfriend James Steen and two other men brought Allen to her home in Mexico after the abduction.
Wescott's phone conversation is part of an investigative report published Thursday, in which three new suspects are named, although none of them is charged in the case.
"I was suprised to read the article," Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes told CNYCentral. Oakes says his office provided copies of all recordings, and paperwork related to the new evidence last year to attorney's for the only man convicted in the Allen case. In addition, Oakes says he provided copies to Gary Thibodeau who is serving time in state prison after his conviction on kidnapping. "If Mr. Thibodeau's legal team was going to do something with the information I gave them, I would have expected it thirteen months ago," Oakes said.
Oakes says prosecutors and investigators with the Oswego County Sheriff's Department vetted the new evidence that was brought to them. He won't say specifically why Wescott's phone conversation was found to be not credible. The phone call, which indicates Allen was brought to her home is the only evidence anyone has ever brought forward that indicates where Allen may have gone after she vanished from her job at a New Haven convenience store. Her body has never been found.
District Attorney Oakes knows there are critics who will believe prosecutors are only interested in preserving the Thibodeau conviction. "Nothing could be further from the truth. That is why we undertook the expense of flying this witness in from out-of-state. It is why we put her up in a hotel for a couple of days, so we could talk to her and learn more. It was so we could investigate this," Oakes said. "There has never been any attempt to do anything other than bring Heidi home for her family, we will always be trying to do that, but in this instance there is no evidence to suggest that the crime was comitted by anyone other than the person who is jailed for it," Oakes said.
Federal public defender Lisa Peebles says she has "what we feel to be compelling information that three other people were involved" in the 1994 disappearance of Heidi Allen from a convenience store near Oswego. Peebles says she is preparing to file a motion next week to overturn Gary Thibodeau's 1995 conviction.
Click here to watch Syracuse.com reporter John O'Brien discuss his reporting on the case, including the motive.