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Vincent Doan Trial: 1997

Culberson's Disappearance, Past Physical Abuse

Defendant: Vincent Doan
Crimes Charged: Murder, kidnapping
Chief Defense Lawyers: John H. Rion, Jon Paul Rion (criminal trial); John H. Rion, Kort Gatterdam (sentencing hearing)
Chief Prosecutor: William Peelle
Judge: William McCracken
Place: Wilmington, Ohio
Date of Trial: July 21, 1997-August 7, 1997
Verdict: Guilty on one count of aggravated murder and three counts of kidnapping; not guilty on one count of aggravated murder and one count of kidnapping
Sentence: Life imprisonment without parole

SIGNIFICANCE: Not for the first time, this case demonstrates that a conviction for murder does not require the victim's body or any conclusive proof of the victim's death when there is strong circumstantial evidence that a murder has been committed and the accused did the crime.

It seemed as if Vincent Doan was two people. Friends and relatives described him as an extremely polite individual who, as a boy, cried at movies like The Wizard of Oz and later, as an adult, would buy a puppy for a friend. However, when it came to Clarissa Ann ("Carrie") Culberson, 22, Doan was a different man.

Doan and Culberson lived in Blanchester, Ohio, a rural community of fewer than 5,000 residents about 30 miles northeast of Cincinnati. At the time of her disappearance, Culberson resided with her divorced mother, Debra Culberson, and her 15-year-old sister, Christina. She worked part-time as a nail technician at two hair studios. After high school she lived in neighboring Midland with a female friend. It was then that she started to date Doan.

The couple's 3-year relationship was violent. Doan was known to push and punch Culberson and to drag her by her hair. Culberson once filed assault charges against Doan, alleging that he hit her in the head with a space heater. Doan also called Culberson at work at least five times every day and beat her when he caught her talking to male friends. Then, on August 29, 1996, Culberson disappeared.

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