Disappearance of Clarissa “Carrie” Culberson

On August 28, 1996, Carrie Culberson disappeared after a night of playing volleyball with friends. Vincent Doan, Carrie’s boyfriend at the time was found guilty of her assumed murder. Carrie nor her car have never been located.

Carrie Culberson

Carrie Culberson, 22, worked as a nail technician at two different salons. At the time of Carrie’s disappearance, she lived with her mother, Debra Culberson, and her younger sister, Christina Culberson. Her parents were divorced, but her father, Robert Culberson, lived nearby.  

Carrie enjoyed making healthy foods and lecturing the people close to her to be healthier, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. The news outlet also reported Carrier was a cheerleader and played soccer. She did well throughout school and had many friends.

Carrie met Vincent Doan in 1995. They started quickly started their relationship, which would last 2 years.

Vincent Doan

Doan had gone to the same high school as Carrie. When they started dated, he was 21 years old. He had recently had legal troubles. He and his best friend, Bobby Montgomery, were arguing over a woman when a gun accidentally fired. The bullet hit Bobby in the face. Doan was charged with a misdemeanor.

Carrie Culberson’s and Vincent’s Doan’s Relationship

According to court documents, Doan was extremely abusive towards Carrie throughout their relationship. He would call Carrie up to four times a day at work and would abruptly show up at locations when she would go places without him.

In January 1995, Cicely Kukuk was living with Carrie. Carrie had received a phone call from a male friend; she went into another room to take the call. When she was off the phone, Cicely testified Doan called Carrie a “f**king b***h”, punched her in the stomach, and dragged her throughout the house by her hair. He forced Carrie out of the house to find the man who called. They came back 10 minutes and Cicely threatened to call the police, but Doan told her he would hurt her if she did. Carrie also asked her not to call because she feared what Doan may do.

In April 1995, Doan had blocked Carrie from leaving the driveway of the house she was living in with Cicely. When Carrie entered the house, Cicely testified Carrie had a cut above her eye and stated Doan slammed her face into the steering wheel.

In November 1995, in an attempt to get Carrie to stop talking, Doan allegedly held his hand over her nose and mouth, preventing her from breathing. When Carrie attempted to remove his hand, she had hurt her face.

Doan smashed the windows out of Carrie’s car out on January 15, 1996. Carrie was in her car outside her house when this altercation occurred. A woman named Georgia was driving home from work and almost hit Doan. Georgia noticed a woman in the car and asked her if she needed help. The woman, Carrie, told her to get the police. Georgia drove to the police station, told the police, and drove back to where she saw Carrie; they were both gone.

Doan attacked Carrie in April 1996, causing a skull fracture to her head, two black eyes, and damage to her kidneys. This altercation occurred when Carrie and Doan were driving together and the Jeep ran out of gas. Court documents state “something allegedly triggered anger in Vincent Doan and he attacked her”, though it is unclear what that something was. When confronted by Carrie’s parents and police, Doan stated Carrie got the injuries from “bouncing around in the vehicle”. Carrie agreed with Doan.

In May 1996, Carrie was seen speaking to Doan outsider her job. He had just shown up to speak to her and was seen yelling in her face and pushed against a car.

In July 1996. Debra had been home with Carrie when Doan forced his way into the home. Debra stated while trying to get to Carrie, Doan pushed her out of the way. Doan had threatened Carrie to stay away from other men. Debra had reported this incident to police but states the police still did not act.

On July 28, 1996, Carrie had stopped by Doan’s house. An altercation occurred where Doan threw Carrie across the room and hit her with a metal object. This led to Carrie needing 7 staples in her head. Carrie had filed a report against Doan.  

On August 27, 1996, Carrie had told Tonya Whitten (a friend) and Shannon Culberson (her cousin) that Doan held in her his car against her will for about 4 to 5.5 hours. He held a gun to her and told her that he was not going to jail. He also threatened to kill her and her family.

Day Carrie Went Missing

Carrie had gone to a volleyball game on August 28, 1996. While playing, Doan showed up and had a verbal confrontation with Carrie. He was trying to get her to leave, but Carrie refused; she promised to drive her friend’s home who had been drinking.

Around 11:30 p.m., Kim Lannerd, Carrie’s neighbor, who was sitting on her porch, saw Carrie arrive at her house. A few minutes later, she saw Carrie’s car leave the driveway and head down the street. Kim recalled the car waiting a few blocks before turning on its lights.

In the early morning on August 29, 1996, around 12:30 a.m. to 12:45 a.m., a neighbor of Doan’s, Billie Jo Brown, told police she saw Doan chase and hit Carrie in his front yard. She said he punched her in the face and said “I told you the next time I’d kill you, you f**king b***h.” Billie told police that she had gone to wake her husband up and heard “squealing tires”; Carrie, her car, and Doan were gone.

Carrie with her car

Around 1:30 a.m., police know Doan spoke to his father, Lawrence Baker, though the contents of the conversation are unknown. Around 3:15 a.m. Doan drove to his half-brother’s house, Tracey Baker. When he arrived, Tori Baker (Tracey Baker’s now ex-wife), opened the door. Tori originally told police that Doan showed up looking dirty and disgruntled. During Doan’s trial, she testified, when Doan arrived at her house, he had blood smeared on his chest.

Vicki Watkins, who was also at the house, stated, “Doan was dirty, grungy looking, and distraught. Doan came inside and showered and changed his clothes. Doan and T. Baker left, taking with them several garbage bags and a gun. The men came back home around 6:00 a.m. Tori continued stating Tracey used a rag to whip believed was blood on his boots and asked her for bleach. Tori also testified that T. Baker had randomly stated he “couldn’t imagine hurting someone and holding her until she died”, while they were sitting on their porch shortly after Carrie’s disappearance.

Debra noticed Carrie’s red 1987 Honda CRX (plate ROL 402) was no longer parked outside. She and her daughter Christina drove around looking for Carrie. They had also spoken to Carrie’s father, Robert. Robert and two friends had been with Carried the night before. All three came to help search.

Around 11:00 a.m. Debra called 911 and reported her daughter missing, making note of the violent history between her daughter and Doan.

Search

On September 3, 1996, police conducted a search L. Baker’s junkyard, located in Clermont County, Ohio. A blood hound and a cadaver dog were brought to search the area. They indicated that there may have been something in the pond that contained Carrie’s smell. The search team had told the head of the investigation, Chief Payton, that they were going to drain the pond. Chief Payton decided not to drain the pond and called off the search for the day.

The following day, the pond was drained. Police observed footprints on the bottom of the pond and a muddy path of weeds, appearing as if someone had recently been in the pond.

Drained pond with alleged footsteps

On September 7, 1996, a massive search party was launched in a 20-mile radius of Blanchester, Ohio. The search spanned over 6 counties. Carrie’s family offered a $10,000 reward for any information on their daughter’s disappearance.

On December 30, 1996, police dig up a freezer on Doan’s father’s property. The freezer contained 15 lbs. of decaying animal meat that was supposed to be for a pet lion.

Carrie nor her car were ever located.

Arrests & Court Proceedings

Chief Payton

On September 16, 1996, Chief Payton of the Blanchester Police Department was also arrested for failing to act when Carrie was reported missing. He was charged with three felony counts of obstructing justice and one count of dereliction of duty in the case of Carrie Culberson.

The prosecutor argues that Chief Payton did nothing for the 5 days spanning from the day Carrie was reported missing to when the Clinton County Sheriff’s office. They also argued that Chief Payton was aware of the abusive relationship Carrie had with Doan, but still did not help.

 Chief Payton pleaded not guilty to all three charges and was released on bail. He would eventually plead no contest in order to avoid jail time. He would retire as chief of police.

Jennifer Warren

On March 10, 1997. Jennifer Warren was indicted on a perjury charged relating to Carrie’s disappearance. She pleaded not guilty and was given $5,000 bond. It is unclear what become of her charges.

Vincent Doan

On March 21, 1997, Doan was indicted. He turned himself into police on March 24, 1997. Doan was charged with two counts of aggravated murder with a capital offence specification and four counts of kidnapping. Doan pleaded not guilty and went to trial.

 Prosecutors told the jury that Doan was obsessed with Carrie. When she no longer wanted to be with him, he killed her. They also argued that Doan had a motive to kill Carrie because of the pending assault charge against him. The defense argued there was no proof a crime was committed; that Carrie had packed her stuff and left town. Multiple people testified

More than 50 witnesses testified at the trial, which lasted more than 3 weeks. Doan was found guilty of 1 count of aggravated murder and 3 counts of kidnapping.

Tracey Baker

Tracey Baker was charged with obstruction of justice, tampering with evidence, and gross abuse of a corpse. He pleaded not guilty and went to trial.

On June 4, 1998, He was found not guilty of gross abuse of a corpse, guilty of obstruction of justice and guilty tampering with evidence. He was given an 8-year sentence and was released on parole in 2005.

Lawrence Baker

Lawrence Baker was charged with two counts of obstructing justice and one count of tampering with evidence. He pleaded not guilty and went to trial.

In August 1998, L. Baker was found not guilty of all charges.

Aftermath

Carrie’s family sued the City of Blanchester for how the case was handled. In July 2001, a jury agreed that the proper steps were not taken when Carrie was reported missing and during the search. They were awarded a large sum of money. The lawsuit also stated that the Blanchester Police would have to go through domestic violence training. The city dedicated a memorial to Carrie.

In 2004, an anonymous caller told police that Carrie’s remains were buried on the property where a man named Jarrod Messer lived. At the time of the call Messer was in prison for a drug charge; the property belonged to his mother. Messer and Carrie were acquainted at the time of her disappearance and presumed murder.

Cadaver dogs were brought and alerted police to a scent. Police dug out an 8-foot square Using a mini-excavator. They found seven items underneath a concrete slab in Messer’s barn. The items were a piece of duct tape, a sock, and a smiley- face T-shirt. Debra recognized the smiley face t-shirt, confirming it belonged to Carrie. DNA testing was conducted but nothing was found.

Carrie Culberson has still not been found. Her family hopes to have closure one day.

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