Lawsuit asks for Carrie's body

BY LISA DONOVAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The family of 22-year-old Carrie Culberson is demanding that her killer and his alleged accomplices reveal where the body was dumped.

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati Friday by the Blanchester woman's mother, father and sister against Vincent Doan, found guilty of her August 1996 murder. The defendants include Mr. Doan's half-brother, Tracey Baker; their father, Lawrence Baker; suspended Blanchester Police Chief Richard Payton, and the village of Blanchester.

Pending criminal cases in state court allege Tracey Baker and Lawrence Baker helped Mr. Doan cover up the case, and that suspended Chief Payton mishandled the case, but the newly filed civil case accuses Mr. Doan, the Bakers and the chief of concealing the slaying and corpse.

''All we've ever wanted is to find Carrie, so we can give her a proper burial,'' Carrie's mother, Debra Culberson, said Friday afternoon.

Carrie Culberson was last seen in the throes of a violent argument with Mr. Doan, her boyfriend, on the streets of Blanchester early the morning of Aug. 29, 1996.

Last summer, a Clinton County jury found Mr. Doan, 25, guilty of murdering her after hearing testimony that he threatened to kill her, beat her and was covered in blood on the morning of that argument. Neither her body nor her car has been found.

Mr. Doan, scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 3, is eligible for the death penalty.

During that trial, evidence suggested that Mr. Doan had help covering up the crime.

The Culbersons' attorney in the civil case, Alphonse Gerhardstein, said he believes Tracey Baker was involved in the slaying and dumping of the corpse, while Lawrence Baker simply knew about both.

In addition, the suit alleges Chief Payton shielded Mr. Doan and his family.

According to the suit, on Sept. 3, 1996, less than a week after Ms. Culberson's disappearance, Chief Payton called off the search of Lawrence Baker's property, where investigators wanted to drain a pond.

''When the pond was drained the next day, footprints were clearly visible on the bottom of the pond and there was also a path of muddy weeds leading from the pond,'' the suit states.

'' . . . Payton deferred the search in order to provide defendants Lawrence Baker, Tracey Baker and Vincent Doan with the opportunity to move Carrie Culberson's body.''

Neither the Bakers nor Chief Payton could be reached for comment, although all three have repeatedly voiced their innocence.

The Culberson family is also seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.