Authorities return Richard Thibodeau's van decades later
SCRIBA, N.Y. —
What authorities say happened in the back of Richard Thibodeau's Chevy van more than two decades ago changed the course of his life. It also put his brother behind bars where he died earlier this month.
"We were pointed out to be kidnappers, and they were saying we did it this van. Well if we did it with this van, so they say, where's the evidence," Thibodeau asked.
Now, after repeatedly asking for his van back over 24 years, authorities have finally returned it to Thibodeau.
"They kept telling me. We're holding this for evidence against your brother. I said what are you talking about? I said there's no evidence whatsoever in a van. I said this van was not in a crime," he said.
It is a time capsule of sorts, preserved inside are pieces of 1994. Including a missing Heidi Allen flyer, Thibodeau had in the van's back window from when he was helping search for her.
But investigators say Thibodeau used the van to kidnap Allen. A witness even saw him driving it the day of her disappearance. They saw him leaning to the back to, what the witness said, push her head down.
"Here's my shifter and I have to move it like this and drive. Bring it up and keep shifting like that. Until I get to third gear and then I just keep driving," Thibodeau said.
He said Allen was nowhere near the van and he wasn't pushing anything down but the gear shifter, which was not brought up in a trial.
Investigator did a detailed search of the van. The FBI crime lab tested for fingerprints and hair inside. None matched Allen.
"It's devastating to both families. My family, the Allen family. It's devastating. Not to know where she is. And to not to have the right people," he added.
Thibodeau said the old van fills him with anxiety. It is part of what put his brother behind bars which he says killed him.
"I just couldn't do it no more. It was breaking my heart. I couldn't watch my brother die. It's not something I wanted to do," Thibodeau said.
Currently, the van won't start and has a flat tire, but he does plan on cleaning it up and fixing it so he can drive it again.