Scrapped: Justice and a Teen Informant

by Lisa Peebles & John O’Brien

Synopsis – Criminal defense lawyer Lisa Peebles was taken aback by a secretly recorded phone call and police interrogation video that surfaced in a 20-year-old kidnapping case. They held the stench of a cover-up. She recruited an investigative reporter to help unearth the truth and exonerate Gary Thibodeau, the man convicted in the 1994 kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old Heidi Allen.

Scrapped: Justice and a Teen Informant exposes the underbelly of a system built more for finality than justice. It’s the true story of Peebles’ pursuit of new evidence against three new suspects and her discovery that Heidi had lived a double life: convenience store cashier and undercover informant. The sheriff’s office hid the truth after her death as the real killers roamed free. Peebles became a de facto prosecutor to prove their guilt and Gary’s innocence. As Heidi’s family stood by the sheriff, her remains were likely secreted right under their noses – probably inside a scrapped van and shipped to a car shredder in Canada.

My thoughts – What a twisted story this was. Crazy true crime and “justice”. A very good read for those interested in the criminal justice system in all its glory. These stories always surprise me, but then again not really. They are scary to imagine really happening, but they do and seem to be not nearly as rare as we hoped they were. This is a sad comment on things regarding the wrongful conviction of a man, and the pain for both his family and the victim’s. It was a bit long with some repetitive areas. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


Publisher – Black Rose Writing -487 pages

Publication date – July 29th, 2022

My rating – 4/5 STARS

About the author –

Lisa Peebles has been head of the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Syracuse, N.Y., for 10 years, and has been a lawyer in the office for the past 21. She’s taken 30 cases to trial in that time, with nine acquittals. In 2014, the New York State Criminal Defense Lawyers Association gave her the Thurgood S. Marshall Award as the state’s outstanding criminal practitioner. She’s been a lawyer in the Syracuse area for 27 years.

John O’Brien was a reporter for The Post-Standard newspaper and for 30 years, the last 10 as an investigative reporter. He’s a co-author of the 1996 true-crime book Goodbye, My Little Ones. In 1993, The Post-Standard nominated him for a Pulitzer Prize for uncovering corruption in the local medical examiner’s office. In 2017, he ended 35 years as a reporter to take a job as an investigator in Peebles’ office. In 2018, the Syracuse Press Club inducted him onto its Wall of Distinction. 

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