Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – The family of Heidi Allen has released an age progression sketch, showing what she may look like today.
Allen was just 18 years-old in 1994, when she disappeared from the convenience store where she worked at the intersection of State Routes 104 and 104B in the Oswego County Town of New Haven.
The case was revisited last year when Allen's sister, Lisa Buske, wrote a book documenting her story called "Where's Heidi?".
The book caught the attention of another missing woman's family and they contacted artist Diana Trepkov in Canada to find out if she could help Allen's family. Trepkov spent days researching the case and offered her services for free.
"Someone knows something. So, I am hoping by making the age progression current, someone will come forward, will give a tip or maybe someone will recognize her,” Trepkov said. "You never know."
Buske says her family couldn't afford an updated age progression sketch. So Trepkov's sketch was an unexpected gift.
“My mom looked at it and she goes 'oh, that's my girl'. Then, it's kind of sad that, oh she's not here, you know the kind of mixed emotion. The positive of you know, who knows who might see this. It might trigger something,” said Buske.
Trepkov describes her work as 25 percent art and 75 percent science. She builds the sketch starting with the bone structure and eyes.
“The eyes are the mirror of the soul. So, when I worked on her age progression, I made sure I kept her eyes, just gravity would take over," Trepkov explained. "The nose becomes a bit bigger and droops, the double-chin starts to come, so the flesh is all softer under the chin. I put the dimples in there. Teeth are great identifiers so I made sure I had her beautiful smile."
Since many people change hairstyles Trepkov sketched Allen with split styles, straight and curly.
"There are thousands of unidentified bodies across the country. You need to have DNA. You need to have the posters. You need to have the age progression. You need to have all these things in order to make the best match that you can make,” Buske said.
Buske is in the process of uploading the sketch for registries online. She's already gotten a tip.
“I can't give up. We can't give up because we have a lot of missing adults and children in this world who are fighting for someone to find them,” Buske said.
Gary Thibodeau was convicted of first degree kidnapping in 1995 in connection with Allen's disappearance. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Thibodeau later filed an appeal, but five justices unanimously upheld the conviction in 1999 based on evidence from witnesses. He has never revealed what happened to Heidi Allen.
His brother, Richard Thibodeau, was acquitted of a kidnapping charge in a separate trial.
The Oswego County Sheriff's Office is still taking tips. If you believe you have information that they may help them in the search for Heidi Allen, you are urged to call (315) 349-3411.