Heidi Allen was a teenager working behind the counter of D&W Convenience, a store in New Haven, New York, when she vanished on Easter morning, 1994. There were no signs of a struggle. Her car was left in the parking lot. In 1995, a man named Gary Thibodeau was convicted of kidnapping Allen and received a 25-years to life sentence. Thibodeau claimed he was innocent; Allen’s body was never found. Twenty years later, Thibodeau’s attorneys are seeking a new trial based on new evidence and new witness testimony.
Bill Pierce, who is now 79 years old, claims he saw what happened that morning. He was in his car, stuck in traffic, outside of the D&W Convenience store when he saw a couple arguing. He says he saw the young woman get hit and dragged into a white van. Why is Pierce coming forward now? Pierce says: “I assumed that they [the police] knew what they were doing. So, I never went forward with anything before this.” Pierce says he thought Thibodeau was guilty until he saw a photo of another suspect, James Steen. “When I saw this other picture, I knew right away that I had made a terrible error.” Pierce added, “I’m beyond a shadow of a doubt now.” he says, “I’m rather ashamed of myself for not having acted on this before. But, I had never seen the picture [of Steen] before.” In 2015, at a hearing to determine if Thibodeau should get a new trial, the judge called Pierce’s testimony “unreliable.” Dateline NBC will air its investigative report on Friday, May 20 at 10pm.