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Heidi Allen case fact check: Errors made by Oswego District Attorney

Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes (CNYCentral Photo)

NEW TONIGHT: Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes offered this more detailed explanation of his statement included in our original story:

It’s my understanding that investigators did not find any hairs with full follicles. After searching the entire van, investigators only found three latent fingerprints on the window of the side door, but they did not match Heidi, Gary, or Richard. Since Richard owned and operated the van, the absence of his fingerprints seemed abnormal. Days after the van was searched, FBI agents observed Richard power-wash the inside of the van at a carwash. I should have been more precise when we spoke; I apologize for the confusion. - Gregory Oakes



A jury convicted Gary Thibodeau in the kidnapping of Heidi Allen. Now, he’s in failing health in prison.

Prosecutors had no evidence to connect him to the scene of the crime, but the claim was made that Gary must have been in the van helping his brother abduct Heidi Allen.

RELATED | 'They know I didn't do it': Ailing Gary Thibodeau maintains innocence in Heidi Allen case

Trial Testimony shows investigators checked the van with ultraviolet light, vacuumed it to capture particles and dusted it for fingerprints, all with the consent of Richard Thibodeau.

They wanted to take my van that evening. I said 'Yeah you can take my van, do what you want I have nothing to hide I didn't do anything anyway.'
The van left plenty for investigators to test the FBI lab report shows they found five latent fingerprints, hairs, and fibers in the van.

SEE ALSO | 'I believe Gary Thibodeau is responsible': Oakes backs conviction in Heidi Allen case

Yet, when CNYCentral spoke with Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes this week, he gave a much different summary of the evidence in the van.

One of the interesting questions, they talked about the absence of fingerprints, DNA and hair follicles. If you tested my vehicle now, you'd find DNA, fingerprints high fibers from my kids. The question is would it be unusual for anyone's vehicle to have a complete absence of those things? That fact that there was a complete absence indicates to me someone was cleaning it taking special efforts those things were not found.
At trial, Oswego Investigator Nicholas Kleist testified. He said he found fingerprints and compare them to both Thibodeau’s and Heidi Allen. When asked what they revealed, he said they didn’t match. There was no identification.

RELATED | 'I don't like coming here':Dick Thibodeau returns to store where Heidi Allen was last seen

FBI Special Agent Christopher Allen also testified as a forensic expert for the bureau. He testified to the vacuum scraping from the van containing hair. Allen said he did not find any matching Heidi Allen's.

The FBI Forensic Team also were given samples of carpet from the van for their own examination. Trial testimony showed that more hairs were found, some from animals, but the human hairs did not match Heidi Allen's.

CNYCentral reached out to Oakes, but he has yet to comment.

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