Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Search for Carrie near end?


Mom says clues mount about missing daughter

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

PERRY TOWNSHIP - During past searches, evidence trails stopped cold.

But now, nearly eight years after 22-year-old Carrie Culberson disappeared from Blanchester, a Clinton County village northeast of Cincinnati, clues keep mounting. To her parents, that suggests investigators are closer than ever to finding Culberson's remains.

"They just keep getting new information that keeps adding up," Debbie Culberson, Carrie's mother, said Tuesday.

Both she and Carrie's father, Roger, said they feel more optimistic about the latest search, which began last week, than any of the dozen that preceded it.

Investigators continued to dig at an excavation site Tuesday under a pole barn on Fayetteville-Blanchester Road in Brown County.

And today, the search will enter its eighth day when police expect to start work with a human-bones expert and add a third cadaver-sniffing dog to the team, said Brown County Sheriff's Chief Deputy John Dunn.

Forensic expert coming

Dr. Beth Murray, a nationally known forensic anthropologist from the College of Mount St. Joseph, is coming to consult about excavation techniques, not to examine any bones, Dunn said.

No human remains have been found at the site and officials have not discussed what led to the barn.

Roger Culberson said investigators revealed their reasons for summoning Murray and the third dog. But they asked him, his ex-wife and Carrie's sister, Christina Knox, not to disclose that information.

Acting on a tip they won't discuss, investigators began searching beneath the barn April 28, a day earlier than previously reported. Carrie's family and news reporters learned about the search two days later.

So far, investigators have excavated a hole about eight feet by eight feet, and 15 feet deep, Dunn said. They plan to dig down 22 feet - the depth that a specific piece of heavy equipment is capable of reaching.

Investigators have learned when the structure was built and when its cement floor was poured, Dunn said. He wouldn't specify the timing, but said it would have been after Culberson's disappearance.

Remains never found

Culberson's ex-boyfriend, Vincent Doan, was convicted in 1997 of killing her even though her body was never found. He is serving a life sentence in prison. Culberson was declared dead in 1998.

Since then, Carrie's mother has become active in domestic-violence intervention and prevention programs.

And she has continued her quest for her daughter's remains.

Although Debbie Culberson dreads the thought of dealing with the aftermath of finding her daughter's body, she said it's worse not knowing what happened to her. "Over the years, we've heard rumor after rumor," she said. The gruesome descriptions of the possibilities created vivid images that haunt her, she said.

Standing at the end of the country lane leading to the barn with its floor dug up, Debbie Culberson said, "I'm praying that this is where Carrie is."

E-mail jmorse@enquirer.com




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