Thursday, August 30, 2001

Blanchester vows to keep searching for body




By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Debbie Culberson, with mayor Harry Brumbaugh, holds a plaque with her daughter Carrie's picture.
(Michael Snyder photos)
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        BLANCHESTER — A simple, five-minute ceremony Wednesday in front of the Blanchester Police Station marked the fifth anniversary of Carrie Culberson's disappearance and murder, and served as a painful reminder that her body still hasn't been found.

        With about 30 relatives, friends and well-wishers looking on, Debbie Culberson presented to village officials a plaque containing her daughter's picture, an explanation of the case and a pledge by Mayor Harry Brumbaugh that police will never give up the search for her body.

        The plaque, which was hung inside the entrance to the police station, was part of a settlement of a federal lawsuit Ms. Culberson won against Blanchester for bungling the search for her daughter's body the week after she disappeared.

        Ms. Culberson and village officials said they believe the presentation of the plaque will begin healing bitter feelings.

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Ms. Culberson hangs the plaque.
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        “I want to reassure you that we will diligently investigate all information we receive about Carrie,” Police Chief Robert Gable told Ms. Culberson.

        Ms. Culberson said she looks forward to working with the police.

        “I want people to come together and start the healing process,” she said.

        Blanchester officials also spoke about working with Ms. Culberson to form a domestic violence coalition of police, prosecutors, the courts and other agencies. Ms. Culberson, whose daughter's boyfriend was convicted of her murder, has spoken at schools and churches about domestic violence.

        The convictions of Vincent Doan for Carrie's murder and of his half-brother Tracey Baker for helping to cover up the crime generated divisions in this village of 4,200 residents.

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Click to read the plaque.
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        The conviction of then- Blanchester Police Chief Richard Payton on two misdemeanor counts of obstruction of justice for botching the search for Carrie's body, and the Culbersons' lawsuit against Blanchester fueled further controversy.

        Mr. Brumbaugh said the Culberson case will always be a source of divisiveness for some residents, but most are willing to cast aside ill feelings.

        “We are at a crossroads now,” he said. “We never want to forget Carrie, but we want to move ahead.”

        Chief Gable said only one Blanchester police officer remains on the force from the time of Carrie's disappearance. “Our attitude is that we want to find Carrie,” he said. “...The plaque will serve as a reminder.”

       



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