People still remember disappearance of Heidi Allen after 20 years

3-26_HEIDIflyer

By Debra J. Groom

April 3, 1994.

It’s Easter Sunday. People in Oswego County are getting ready to celebrate this holiest of days on the Christian calendar.

It’s about 7:30 a.m. In New Haven, Town Justice Russell Sturtz is getting ready for church. Ditto Historian Marie Strong.

Over in Oswego, Undersheriff Reuel Todd is helping his wife with preparations for a family holiday feast later in the day.

Everything changes about 20 minutes later.

“I got a phone call about 7:50,” said Todd, who now is Oswego County sheriff. “They said one of our deputies was flagged down out in New Haven because the door to the D&W Convenience Store was unlocked but there was no one at the store.”

Sturtz got a similar call from his sister-in-law, who was Heidi’s mother. “She said Heidi wasn’t at the store,” he said.

Heidi Allen, then 18, was working at the D&W Convenience Store at the intersection of Route 104 and 104B that Easter morning. Some time after 7:30 a.m., she disappeared.

She has not been found in all these 20 years.

Heidi and her disappearance still affects people throughout New Haven and other parts of Oswego County to this day. Many will gather April 3 at the New Haven Fire Department to remember Heidi, share stories and light candles.

In those 20 years, two trials were held. Brothers Richard and Gary Thibodeau were arrested and charged with kidnapping Heidi. Separate trials were held – Richard was found not guilty, Gary was found guilty.

Gary, now 60, is serving 25 years to life in the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, Clinton County. His scheduled release date is May 19, 2020, according to state prison records.

While many cases this old may be set aside, especially after someone has been found guilty and sent to prison, that isn’t the case here.

Todd said the Heidi Allen case is still very active. The case is discussed once a month and rookies and trainees even get in on the action by checking all the information from the case to see what has been done.

And the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office still has a Heidi Allen page on its website.

“It is discussed here probably more than any case we’ve ever had,” Todd said. “We continually follow up leads as to where she is. If we get a teletype for remains that have been found, we follow it up. Our main interest is the family. If we could recover her, it would put an end to it for the family,”

Heidi’s older sister Lisa Buske, of New Haven, has written four books about the feelings one has when a loved one vanishes without a trace. She has met other people from all over who also have missing family members. She speaks to many groups across the country about her journey.

She said “it is more common than you think” that someone can remain missing for 20 years. She has met people with family members missing for 30-plus years.
The use of DNA to make matches with discovered remains has helped solve many cases.

“There are a lot of cold cases out there,” she said.

Todd talked of the searches held from the moment Heidi was discovered missing.

“I gathered up the things we would need, pens, county maps, yellow pads, and headed to New Haven,” he said. “Our initial thought was ‘oh, she ran home for something and forgot to lock the (store) door.’ Or ‘we’re going to get a call — she’s going to call and say ‘I’ll be back shortly.’”

But those calls never came. Todd and scores of others spent much of the next two weeks at the New Haven fire hall, putting together search parties, tracking down leads, talking to witnesses.

Strong, the historian, heard about the case when Sturtz showed up at her house to get her son to help with the search. She also worked at the fire hall registering people who were helping out.

“This just seemed impossible,” she said. “It didn’t seem like this could happen around here – it’s a small town, a quiet town.”

Many members of the public showed up to help search. Todd said searches actually were made easier by the heavy wet snow that fell that Easter morning. If the snow in an area was pristine and untouched, everyone knew Heidi couldn’t be there.

“There were guys all over searching,” said Alan Downing, who was New Haven supervisor at that time. “I volunteered for searches.”

To date, the Heidi search has taken sheriff’s office officials to many different states. Buske said Todd is always sure to let the family know when remains are found that are being checked to see if they could be Heidi.

In fact, the case was publicized in many parts of the country. Downing, who took a trip to the Canadian Rockies a number of years after the kidnapping, said he was traveling back into Washington state from Canada and saw a 3-foot square sign “Have You Seen Heidi?” with her photo as he entered the U.S.

Todd said not finding Heidi is the matter that bothers him the most in his nearly 40-year law enforcement career.

“I would like to think we left no stone unturned,” he said last week. “I’m a parent and I can’t figure out what they’re (Heidi’s parents Ken and Sue) going through. I think because we got so close, it’s more troublesome. When you have something like this you like to see a finality.”

Todd recently announced he is running for another four-year term as sheriff. That will give him another four years to try to find Heidi.

“If I could find her, I would retire a very, very happy man,” he said.

John Spotswood, of Oswego, newest Oswego County lottery winner

John Spotswood of Oswego recently celebrated his 50th birthday with the usual flurry of phone calls and cards from family and friends.

He also got three scratch-off New York Lottery tickets from his sister.

The first one won him $25, he said. The second — zilch.

The third was the charm. It was worth $1 million.

Spotswood, who works as a nuclear power plant technician, is taking the cash option and will net $555, 912. Spotswood said the money will allow him to retire at a decent age, take a trip next year and buy some new shoes. 

Group out to kill invasive species giant hogweed in Oswego County

Giant hogweed plant
Giant hogweed plant

Partners of the SLELO-PRISM (St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario – Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management) will again be busy controlling giant hogweed plants in the eastern Lake Ontario region.

More than 61 sites spread across five counties — including Oswego County — are scheduled to be treated. Counties included in this effort are St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida and cswego Counties.

“Giant Hogweed poses a serious threat to anyone who comes into contact with the sap from the plant,” said Rob Williams, PRISM coordinator. “The sap, combined with sunlight, creates a photosensitive reaction on human skin which can cause serious burns and blisters and eventual scarring.”

“Due to the biology of this plant, we believe it is still possible to eradicate local populations of Giant Hogweed,” Williams said. “Since the beginning of the program in 2011 we have achieved a 33 percent reduction in active hogweed sites.”

Techniques used to control this plant include cutting the root of the plant just below the ground surface, applying herbicides and removing the flowering seed head just before seed drop.

The main stem/stalk of the giant hogweed plant with identifying purple blotches and white hairs
The main stem/stalk of the giant hogweed plant with identifying purple blotches and white hairs

The group’s work takes place primarily on public property and rights-of-way. The most effective and “safe” way for landowners to control this plant on private property is to apply over-the-counter herbicides in accordance with their labels.

Invasive species of plants, animals, insects and microorganisms are among the most serious threats to native species, habitats and ecosystems within the five-county areas that define the St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario (SLELO) region.

Invasive species interfere with many types of outdoor recreation. They reduce crop yields and interfere with harvest operations on local farms.

Along public roads and highways, invasive plants restrict visibility and create roadside hazards. Invasive insects and diseases kill trees in forested areas as well as along community streets.

The economic impact of invasive species in the United States alone has been estimated at 120 billion annually.

Local communities have been challenged with controlling invasive species or remediating their impacts at costs ranging from several thousand to millions of dollars.

For more information on Giant Hogweed, visit the SLELO website at sleloinvasives.org.

To report a sighting call the Giant Hogweed Hotline at 845-256-3111.

Cub Pack runs Pinewood Derby

Members of Cub Pack 809 pose with Oswego Speedway superstars. Back Row: Debbie Bond, Anthony “The Hawk” Losurdo, Steven Gioia III,  Danny Kapuscinski, Patrick Furlong, Brent Moody; Next row: Devin Enos, Kolbi Schute, Zach Kinney, Xander Strong, Rhiley Castaldo; Next row: Ayden Santiago, Freddy Pagan, Sage Moody, Preston Wilkinson, Corbin Hare; Next row: Max Steiger, Anthony Hillard, Cayden France, Hayden Castaldo
Members of Cub Pack 809 pose with Oswego Speedway superstars. Back Row: Debbie Bond, Anthony “The Hawk” Losurdo, Steven Gioia III, Danny Kapuscinski, Patrick Furlong, Brent Moody; Next row: Devin Enos, Kolbi Schute, Zach Kinney, Xander Strong, Rhiley Castaldo; Next row: Ayden Santiago, Freddy Pagan, Sage Moody, Preston Wilkinson, Corbin Hare; Next row: Max Steiger, Anthony Hillard, Cayden France, Hayden Castaldo.

Cub Pack 809 held its Pinewood Derby March 15 at Premier Living Suites in Oswego.

Along with the excitement of racing, the boys also got a visit from Oswego Speedway superstars: Anthony “The Hawk” Losurdo, Stephen Gioia III, Camden Proud, Mike Bruce and Rob Pullen. The drivers also provided the countdown to start the racing!

The Oswego Speedway donated racing simulators for use after racing was done.

Along with first-, second- and third-place awards, certificates were handed out for most creative, awarded to a car based on a cruise ship, most colorful for a car covered with glitter, best video gamed themed for a car with Legos and best Cub Scout themed.

This pack meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays at Fitzhugh Park Elementary School to learn about core values and character development through fun activities, games, crafts and field trips.

They learn about cooperation, respect, citizenship and positive attitude while abiding by the founders view that “Cub Scouts is a Game with a Purpose.”

Past events have included, bowling, camping at Jellystone, and an overnight at Midway Drive in theatre, an overnight at the MOST, roller skating and numerous camp outs.

Anyone interested in joining Cub Scout Pack 809 or volunteering, call Carrie Kinney, pack committee chair, at 297-3571.

SUNY Oswego students invited to enter War of 1812 writing contest

SUNY Oswego students are invited to participate in the War of 1812 research paper competition in conjunction with the fourth annual Oswego War of 1812 Symposium Friday, April 4 to Sunday, April 6.

The symposium will be held at the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center, 26 E. First St., Oswego.

The contest involves SUNY Oswego students writing and presenting their findings on any aspect of the War of 1812. All SUNY Oswego students are welcome to participate.

Students interested in competing must follow the requirements for the contest. The topic of the paper must be on some aspect of the War of 1812. There is no length requirement for the papers, but they must be able to be presented for at least 10 minutes.

All papers must be submitted by Monday, March 24 and several papers will be chosen to be presented Friday evening, April 4 at the symposium. Students whose papers are chosen to be presented at the symposium will have the chance to win up to $150.

SUNY Oswego students who register with Richard Weyhing of the History Department a week prior, will have the registration fee covered to the symposium.

Richard Weyhing, an assistant professor of history at SUNY Oswego, is coordinating the contest with SUNY Oswego students.

“This is going to be a great event that brings together SUNY Oswego students, the local community, and a slate of outside scholars to explore Oswego’s and New York’s place within the broader history of the War of 1812,” he said.

For more information regarding the contest or to submit your paper, please contact Weyhing at Richard.weyhing@oswego.edu.

Oswego police make drug arrests

The Oswego police made a number of drug arrests this week.

On Monday March 17, investigators stopped a white Honda Civic on East Fourth St. just north of East Bridge Street. The vehicle was stopped as a result of an investigation into illegal heroin possession and sales occurring within the City of Oswego.

The three adult occupants of the vehicle were detained. A three-year-old child also was in the vehicle. The search of the vehicle and suspects resulted in the seizure of 76 bags of heroin and one hypodermic needle.

The following were arrested:

• Robert L. Bort, 22, and Danielle M. Boeglin, 22, both of 105 E. Fourth St., Apt #2, Oswego, criminal possession of a controlled substance third degree with intent to sell, a felony, and a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child.

• Alissa L. Miller, 25, of 105 E. Fourth St., Apt. # 2, Oswego, criminal possession of a controlled substance seventh degree, a misdemeanor.

Oswego City Police are asking anyone with information regarding this or any other illegal drug activity to contact them at 342-2283. Individuals wishing to remain anonymous may also contact the Oswego City Police Departments tip-line at 342-8131, or email crimewatch@oswegony.org

Also, as a result of the continued investigation of a methamphetamine lab in early March, another person has been charged by Oswego police.

• On Wednesday March 12, Kerriann M. Johnson, 23, of 1 E. Seventh St., Oswego was arrested and charged with unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in the third degree, a felony.

Johnson was arraigned in Oswego City Court and released. She reports back to city court April 15.

• On Monday March 17, Dale K. Butler Jr, 32, and Kally L. Carr, 29, both of 212 Syracuse Ave. Oswego were arrested and charged with one count each of unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine in the third degree, a felony.

Butler and Carr were both arraigned in Oswego City Court. Carr was released with a return court date of April 17 while Butler was sent to Oswego County jail with no bail. He has a return court date of March 25.

Police say on March 4, Johnson, Butler and Carr along with Ronald Recore possessed ingredients and components used to manufacture methamphetamine with the intent to do so.

Recore, of Fulton, was arrested and charged previously.

Rice Creek offers spring programs

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

SUNY Oswego’s Rice Creek Field Station has unveiled its spring lineup of free nature education programs on Saturdays.

Rice Creek Rambles beckon the public to the field station’s 400 acres of mixed terrain for guided walks at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 5 and May 10.

“Spring Awakenings” on April 5 will give walkers a chance to observe new appearances in the forests, fields and wetlands as seasons change. “Birds, Bugs and Blooms” will await walkers on May 10.

Call 312-6677 to check trail conditions on the morning of each hike.

The ways of wildlife will engage children at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 26 and May 31, for Rice Creek Story Hour.

“Rainbow Crow” on April 26 will relate the Lenape legend with beautiful illustrations and a lesson of service to others. On May 31, “The Salamander Room” will capture young imaginations while demonstrating what living things need to survive.

The field station will feature Sharing Science at 11 a.m. Saturdays April 12, May 3 and May 17.

“Composting Fundamentals” will help attendees sort out whether they need a bin, a pile or a tumbler to put such things as kitchen scraps and yard waste to good use in a healthy compost pile. Visitors can hear about Rice Creek’s three-bin system and share their own composting tips.

On May 3, the family-oriented “Wildlife Games and Activities” will present a fun-filled session featuring hands-on activities from Project Wild and other sources that simulate key natural concepts and stewardship of resources.

The May 17 “Rain Gardens” presentation will cover this new edition at Rice Creek and the many functions such gardens serve.

Since program size is limited, the field station is unable to accommodate groups. An adult needs to accompany children.

Visitors may tour the new headquarters of Rice Creek — the 7,200-square-foot, energy-efficient field station — during building hours, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Trails are open for hiking during daylight hours at Rice Creek Field Station; the entrance is on Thompson Road about a mile south of State Route 104.

For information, visit oswego.edu/ricecreek or call 312-6677.

Chiropractors honored by United Way

Kathy Fenlon, president of the United Way of Greater Oswego County’s Board of Directors, presents Oswego County chiropractors with the United Way’s inaugural Outstanding Event Award for their Patient Appreciation Day. Pictured from left are: Brett Tallents, Casey McCaffery, event chairperson Richard Tesoriero, Kathy Fenlon, Beth Dubois and Anthony Licatese. Absent from photo are: Richard Falanga, Ryan Barker, Franklin Perkins II, Michael Soucy, Jason Cunningham and Dustin Wahrendorf.
Kathy Fenlon, president of the United Way of Greater Oswego County’s Board of Directors, presents Oswego County chiropractors with the United Way’s inaugural Outstanding Event Award for their Patient Appreciation Day. Pictured from left are: Brett Tallents, Casey McCaffery, event chairperson Richard Tesoriero, Kathy Fenlon, Beth Dubois and Anthony Licatese. Absent from photo are: Richard Falanga, Ryan Barker, Franklin Perkins II, Michael Soucy, Jason Cunningham and Dustin Wahrendorf.

Several Oswego County chiropractors were recognized with the United Way of Greater Oswego County’s inaugural Outstanding Special Event award at the United Way’s Annual Meeting held March 12 at the American Foundry in Oswego.

The group was honored for its annual participation in Patient Appreciation Day.

Established by Richard Tesoriero of Oswego, in association with the state Chiropractic Association, the event brought together chiropractors throughout Oswego County who  offered chiropractic treatments at reduced rates on Patient Appreciation Day with all proceeds benefiting the United Way of Greater Oswego County.

“It’s my pleasure to present this award,” said United Way Executive Director Melanie Trexler. “Patient Appreciation Day is the longest running special event that is held in support of United Way and over the years has raised thousands of dollars for our campaign.”

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