Thursday, September 11, 1997
Police chief investigated
He denies tipping Doan about search

BY LISA DONOVAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILMINGTON, Ohio - Blanchester Police Chief Richard Payton is a subject of a grand jury investigation scheduled to begin Monday in the August 1996 murder of Carrie Culberson, sources said Wednesday.

Chief Payton had nothing to do with Ms. Culberson's kidnapping and killing, but there are concerns about how the village police department handled the case, said a source close to the investigation.

Vincent Doan, 25, of Blanchester, was found guilty last month of the Aug. 29, 1996, slaying of Ms. Culberson, 22, a one-time girlfriend who also lived in Blanchester.

During the monthlong trial this summer, Clinton County Prosecutor William Peelle suggested that Mr. Doan and his family - specifically his half brother Tracey Baker and their father, Lawrence Baker - covered up the crime.

The source, who asked not to be identified because of the continuing investigation, said: "There is evidence that the village (police chief) acted in a way that was to the advantage of the Bakers and Vincent Doan." The source said Tracey and Lawrence Baker also are subjects of the grand jury investigation.

Chief Payton said Wednesday he has not been told he is under investigation. However, he said he was asked by members of the prosecutor's office about three months ago whether he leaked information about the investigation to Mr. Doan or his family.

Chief Payton said he never tipped off the family about the search of their Clermont County property in the days after Ms. Culberson disappeared.

The 20-year police chief dismissed any allegations of wrongdoing against him.

The grand jury will convene Monday to decide whether more charges will be handed up in the Culberson murder case.

When contacted Wednesday, Mr. Peelle refused to comment on the case, saying that the grand jury process is secret.

Tracey Baker, who has an unlisted phone number, could not be reached for comment.

An unidentified woman who answered the phone at Lawrence Baker's residence said the family had no comment.

During interviews immediately after the trial, Tracey Baker and Lawrence Baker professed their innocence, along with Mr. Doan's.