NBC's 'Dateline: The Informant' chronicles the investigation into the murder of 18-year-old cashier Heidi Allen from her New Haven home in April 1994. The investigators encountered many unexpected turns and turns as they tried to solve the case. The episode also interviews an informant, Tonya Priest, and the convict's brother, Richard Thibodeau, in order to assist viewers in understanding the situation better.
Tonya Priest and Richard Thibodeau: Who Are They?
Heidi Allen opened the D&W Convenience store at the intersection of state Route 104 and state Route 104B in New Haven, New York, around 5:45 am. The customers suspected foul play when they discovered Heidi's car and his personal belongings hidden behind the cash counter.
Richard Thibodeau admitted on the program that he voluntarily reported Heidi's disappearance since he was the last person to see her alive after purchasing two packets of cigarettes at the store around 7:30 am. However, the authorities considered him a suspect in the case after learning he owned the same type of white van many witnesses saw leaving the scene at the same time as Heidi's mysterious abduction.
Within a few weeks of the crime, Richard and his brother, Gary Thibodeau, were arrested and charged with first-degree kidnapping. The investigation into Richard's van found no tangible evidence linking the vehicle to the abduction, but Gary was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison after two inmates claimed he had killed Heidi due to a drug deal that went wrong.
Tonya M. Priest admitted in a court affidavit that three individuals – James Steen, Michael Bohrer, and Roger Breckenridge – were involved in Heidi's abduction. She said she met James, Michael, and Roger through her husband. In the spring of 2016, Vicki West said she visited James at her trailer.
James admitted to Tonya and Vicki that he kidnapped her in the garage before dismembering her body and disposing of her in a cabin in the nearby thick woods, according to Tonya's testimony. She ignored the information, fearing for the lives of her and the children.
What Has Happened to Tonya Priest and Richard Thibodeau?
After killing Vicki and her lover in September 2010, James was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole in June 2011. Tonya went forward and informed the authorities about what James had told her about her around seven years ago in his trailer. The officers located Heidi's remains, but she failed to prove her innocence.
Tonya's claims were dismissed by James, saying, "I had nothing to do with Heidi Allen." "How is it that you believe Tonya's big lie?" According to the presiding judges, Jennifer Westcott, who was present at Richard's house during the alleged abduction of Heidi, denied Tonya's claims.
Tonya alleges that Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oakes put her family in jeopardy by revealing the state where she lives. She added that she planned on "packing and disappearing." She regrets ever standing up and pursuing this issue.
Tonya and Richard's current addresses have been hidden from the public eye, according to the court filing. Both wanted their current addresses to protect the press and the prying masses.