Two former Oswego County Sheriff’s Office investigators testified Thursday that Heidi Allen provided no substantive confidential information to police, but Gary Thibodeau’s defense team argued she was still in danger because her confidentiality had been breached.
Allen went missing in April of 1994 — last seen at the D&W Convenience Store in New Haven — and Thibodeau’s conviction of kidnapping her has come under fire with witnesses naming new suspects and the defense team arguing Allen’s perceived status as an informant gave others a motive.
Allen’s confidential informant identification card — called a “pedigree card” by investigators — was dropped and later found sometime in 1992, according to sheriff’s office records.
Much of Thursday’s testimony centered on whether this index card — which contained a code name, personal details and thumbprints — was discussed or seen publicly, or gave the impression Allen was an informant.
Investigator Christopher Van Patten said he interviewed Allen on Dec. 11, 1991, after hearing from former judge Russell Sturtz — Allen’s uncle and a friend of Van Patten’s — that she wanted to share some information on illegal drug use in the county.
“It was basically rumor mill,” Van Patten testified, “what she heard on the street.” It was Van Patten — whose patrol included the D& W, where he sometimes used the payphone — who had control of Allen’s pedigree card, though he said he did not know when or how exactly he had dropped it.
Van Patten testified he never worked with Allen again or had any further contact with her. He said he found out about the lost card in late January of 1992, when Sgt. John Cox assigned deputy Michael Montgomery to retrieve the card from the D& W, where owner Kristine Duell had called in after finding it.
The card was then put in Van Patten’s mailbox at the sheriff’s office, according to Va n Patten.
During cross-examination, he told federal public defender Lisa Peebles he never notified Allen or her family about the lost card. He also told Peebles that his training on working with confidential informants was limited.
Van Patten confirmed with chief assistant district attorney Mark Moody that the pedigree card gave no indication of Allen’s status as an informant.
But the investigator also told Peebles that anyone seeing the card would have no idea what Allen was doing for the sheriff’s office, with Peebles arguing a drug dealer seeing the card would be “concerned,” or have a motive to harm Allen.
Investigator Michael Anderson testified he interviewed Allen and her boyfriend Brett Law sometime after Van Pat-ten had met with her. Like Van Patten, Anderson said Allen’s contribution as an informant was nothing of significance.
“It was kid stuff,” said Anderson, noting the conversation took only around 15 minutes. He said he never got any names out of Allen and never met her again. He said the conversation never led to any investigation or arrests.
The defense team questioned whether a confidential informant would be in danger if their confidentiality were breached.
“Generally speaking, yes,” Anderson testified. But he said an informant should only be notified that they’d been compromised if they were indeed, “an active informant.” Anderson said, however, that he would have performed more follow up to discover how the card was lost and the circumstances of its discovery.
He also told Peebles he wasn’t aware of any sheriff’s office “standard operating procedure” in dealing with informant confidentiality being breached back in the early 1990s.
Duell testified she could not recall exactly when she found the pedigree card, and said she spoke with no one but her mother about it. She said she did not share it with Allen, an employee and a family friend.
Duell and her mother agreed not to tell anyone, and she decided to call the sheriff’s office, who picked it up in January of 1992 — little more than a month after Allen first met with them — according to sheriff’s office records.
Duell testified she did not know Michael Bohrer, with Peebles asking questions about regulars visiting from Spinners, the nearby bar and hotel where Bohrer testified he lived for a time.
Judge Daniel King told attorneys Thursday morning he had ruled against allowing testimony from three witnesses related to Bohrer’s 1981 false imprisonment conviction, according to the defense team.
Peebles wanted to recall Bohrer to the stand, saying his 1981 abduction of Catherine Schmitt in Wisconsin — when he grabbed Schmitt from behind and attempted to force her into a car — was similar enough to the Allen case that it would have been admissible in trial.
Prosecutors argued the cases were dissimilar, with no connecting factors or evidence, and the testimony should not be allowed.
King indicated Wednesday that he was leaning against allowing testimony on Bohrer’s 1981 case, because the defense appeared to be impeaching its own witness, which is not allowed.
His written ruling denying the testimony was not immediately available at the Oswego County Court Clerk’s office.
In January, Bohrer was on the stand for two days of emotional testimony involving a psychic, visions, his businesses and connections to the Thibodeaus and other newly named suspects James Steen and Roger Breckenridge.
Bohrer told the court he personally investigated the Allen case for 20 years, collecting tips and documents in an a large black briefcase.
Several times throughout the hearing, the defense team has attempted to bring Bohrer’s prior record — and other allegations of violence against women — before the court.
But each time, prosecutors have objected over relevancy and hearsay, with King largely sustaining their objections and shutting down the testimony.
King also ruled against allowing the defense to question former District Attorney Donald Dodd over trial transcript questions regarding Allen’s fingerprints.
King said the testimony was unnecessary because the transcript speaks for itself, but said in fairness to the defense, he would review the sections of the transcript they wanted to ask Dodd about.