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Vincent Doan Trial: 1997 - Culberson's Disappearance

baker carrie tracy brown

At about 6 A.M. on August 29, 1996, Debra Culberson noticed that Carrie and Carrie's red Honda CRX were gone. She and Christina drove around town to find her. Carrie's father, Roger Culberson, and two friends who had been with Carrie the night before soon joined the search. Nine days later, more than 300 volunteers spent the weekend looking through the forests, fields, and abandoned buildings in and around Blanchester. The Culberson family offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for Carrie's disappearance. Television programs such as Inside Edition and The Oprah Winfrey Show featured stories about the case. Still, neither Culberson nor her car was ever found. Then, in March 1997, Doan was indicted on four counts of kidnapping Culberson. Three months later, two counts of aggravated murder were added.

The trial began on July 21, 1997, at the Clinton County Courthouse in Wilmington, Ohio. During the trial, the prosecution called 23 people to the stand; the defense, 28. Despite the lack of a body or any decisive proof that Carrie Culberson was dead, the prosecution presented two theories to the jury. The first was that Doan was obsessed with Culberson and he murdered her when he found that he could not control her. The second was that Doan kidnapped and killed Culberson to prevent her from pursuing the assault charges she filed after he hit her with the space heater.

The first of the prosecution's key witnesses was Jessica Williams, a friend of Culberson's. Williams testified that on the evening before Culberson's disappearance, the two participated in a volleyball game in Morrow, about 10 miles away from Blanchester. During the game, Doan showed up and tried to get Culberson to leave, but she refused. After the game, Williams and Culberson returned to Blanchester and, at Carrie's request, they drove by Doan's residence twice before Williams dropped her off.

Kimberly Lannerd, a neighbor of the Culbersons who had a habit of sitting on her porch on late summer evenings, testified that Carrie was dropped off at the Culberson home at about 11:45 P.M. on August 28, 1996. Shortly afterward Lannerd saw Carrie's car backing out of the driveway without its headlights on. "The headlights being off stayed in my mind" she said. "They were put on about halfway down the street."

A third witness, Billie Jo Brown, lived across the street from Doan. Getting off work at around 11:40 P.M. on August 28, 1996, she walked home and went to bed about 50 minutes later. Just as she was lying down, Brown heard loud voices outside. Looking out her bedroom window, she saw a little red car parked at the intersection between her and Doan's house. Going to her kitchen window, Brown then saw a young woman in her yard running away from a man. Due to both the brightness of the street light in her front yard and a full moon, Brown recognized the couple as Doan and a lady that Brown had seen at Doan's residence a few times every week. According to Brown, the woman was screaming, "Help me!" while Doan shouted, "I told you next time I'd kill you, you fucking bitch." Once Doan caught up with the woman, he continually punched her while she used her fist to try to get away. Brown, who did not have a phone in her house, immediately alerted her husband, who told her not to worry because there was probably drinking involved. Brown heard tires squealing and when she looked out the window, the couple and the car were gone.

Also on the witness stand were Vicki Watson and Lori Baker, the former sister-in-law and former wife of Doan's half-brother, Tracy Baker.

Watson testified that she slept at the Baker residence during the night of Culberson's disappearance. At about 3:15 A.M., Watson heard a knock on the door. She did not answer it, but peered through the blinds. Outside on the lit deck was Doan with no shirt on, his right hand holding his left arm, and his hair messed up. She did not see any blood. Doan and Tracy Baker were talking, but Watson could not hear what was said. One half hour later, Doan and Tracy Baker left. Shortly afterward, Lori Baker took Watson to work.

On the witness stand, Lori confirmed that when Doan appeared at her home at 3:15 that morning, he was wearing only jeans and that his right hand was holding his left arm. She added that Doan's chest was smeared with blood. According to Baker, Doan and Tracy Baker talked awhile before Tracy Baker came inside and asked if there were any garbage bags. Doan took a shower before he left with Tracy Baker and the garbage bags and a gun at 3:30 or 3:45 A.M.

According to Lori Baker, Doan and her husband were back at the Baker residence by 5:50 A.M. Lori gave Tracy some bleach and a scrub brush and he took them to Doan who was again showering. Lori testified that there was blood on Tracy's clothes and that she saw him wipe off some blood from his boots. (Blood samples taken from Tracy Baker's boots, truck, and towel were too degraded for testing.)

Vincent Doan Trial: 1997 - Past Physical Abuse [next]

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