BLANCHESTER, OH (FOX19) - More than 20 years after her convicted killer was sent to prison, a Blanchester woman is still nowhere to be found.
Carrie Culberson, 22, disappeared on August 28, 1996 in Blanchester. Police said she came home from a volleyball game with friends and then vanished. She and her car have never been seen since that day. As the years go by, it remains difficult for Culberson’s family and friends to wrap their heads around her disappearance.
Her mother, Deb Culberson, said that her daughter was truly someone special. She was bubbly, genuine and fun. Every day is tough for her and for all of Carrie Culberson’s loved ones, but especially January 31 -- her birthday. This year, she would have been 45 years old.
“I feel like Carrie would’ve accomplished a lot by now, but you still wonder," said Jamie Smith, Culberson’s friend. “I wonder how many kids she might have, where she might be in her life, what she might look like now.”
Not long after Culberson’s disappearance, authorities pinpointed a main suspect: Culberson’s ex-boyfriend, Vincent Doan, known for his violent tendencies. He went on trial for Culberson’s kidnapping and murder. Prosecutors did not have a body, but believed the evidence they had made it worth the risk. It paid off. Doan is currently serving a life sentence without the chance for parole.
“(Culberson’s friends) have seen visible signs of what he had done in the past, so when you know what he had done in the past, you can only imagine what he had done that night (she disappeared)," said Deb Culberson.
Despite feeling that justice was served in the courtroom, Carrie Culberson’s family and friends cannot help but feel lost because a part of them is missing. Their hearts are no longer whole.
“After 23 years, you’ve got to learn to have some peace, but complete peace ... that’ll never happen," said Deb Culberson.
There have been numerous searches for Carrie Culberson’s remains throughout the years, but nothing has turned up.
“Though we would like to bring her home and lay her to rest and have services for her, she is what we want,” said Smith. "The time we lost with her is what is not replaceable.”
Deb Culberson said there have been recent leads in the case involving letters that were discovered inside prisons.
“The reason I have hope is because there’s so many law enforcement officials who have so much invested in Carrie’s case, that they won’t give up," she said.
While finding Carrie Culberson will not change what happened to her, it would give her a final resting place that her family believes she has always deserved.
Vincent Doan’s half-brother, Tracey Baker, was also convicted in the case for obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence. He served time in prison, but has been released. Doan, to this day, continues to claim he is innocent. If you have any information on this case, call police.