Wednesday, September 10, 1997
Help in cover-up suspected
New grand jury to probe Culberson case

BY LISA DONOVAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILMINGTON, Ohio - A new Clinton County grand jury investigation is being launched into the disappearance and death of Carrie Culberson, whose one-time boyfriend was convicted last month of her murder.

Vincent Doan is awaiting sentencing. Ms. Culberson's body has not been found, and during Mr. Doan's trial, prosecutors suggested he may have had help trying to cover up the crime.

Subpoenas have been issued for 11 witnesses to appear before the Clinton County grand jury Monday. Six of the 11 testified during Mr. Doan's trial in July and August.

Rick Moyer, an assistant county prosecutor, declined to comment on whom the government is seeking an indictment against, because grand jury proceedings are secret.

During this summer's trial, Mr. Moyer and County Prosector William Peelle suggested that Mr. Doan was able to cover up the crime with some help from his family.

Mr. Doan's father, Lawrence Baker, gave the only alibi for his son in the early morning of Aug. 29, 1996, when prosecutors said Mr. Doan kidnapped and killed Ms. Culberson, 22, of Blanchester. During the trial, Mr. Baker became flustered on the stand during questioning by Mr. Peelle. Mr. Baker provided inconsistent answers about the exact time he saw his son sleeping on a couch in his apartment the morning of Aug. 29.

Mr. Doan's half brother, Tracey Baker, who did not testify, was implicated by other witnesses at the trial.

Tracey Baker's former wife, Lori Baker, testified that Mr. Doan came to the couple's Blanchester home that morning, "covered in blood." After Mr. Doan showered, he and Mr. Baker left the house with a gun and seven garbage bags, returning roughly three hours later, Ms. Baker testified.

Lawrence Baker and Tracey Baker have repeatedly professed their innocence. Neither could be reached for comment Tuesday. Ms. Baker is one of the witnesses being subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury Monday, according to court documents.

The others who testified in Mr. Doan's trial and have been subpoenaed for the grand jury are:

  • Ms. Baker's sister Vickie Watkins; during the trial, she corroborated Ms. Baker's testimony about Mr. Doan's early-morning visit to the Baker residence Aug. 29.

  • Ms. Culberson's mother, Debbie Culberson; Mrs. Culberson witnessed some of the abuse her daughter suffered at the hands of Mr. Doan during the couple's two-year relationship.

  • Ms. Culberson's friend Tonya Whitten; Mrs. Whitten had played volleyball with Ms. Culberson in the hours before she was murdered.

  • Clermont County Sheriff's Deputy Ben Lunsford, who questioned Mr. Doan and his father about Ms. Culberson's disappearance after a search of some family property in Clermont County.

  • Clinton County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Edwards, who investigated several aspects of the case.

Jurors will reconvene Nov. 3 to determine whether to recommend that Mr. Doan be sentenced to death.