A look at famous missing children cases in the Tri-State

CINCINNATI - A look at some famous missing children cases in the Tri-State:

Erica Baker, 9, disappeared Feb. 7, 1999.  The Kettering girl went out to walk her aunt's dog at a nearby park on a Sunday afternoon. The dog returned but Erica did not. Prosecutors accused Christian Gabriel of driving a van that allegedly hit Baker as she ran into the street and then burying her body. Gabriel was convicted of corpse abuse and evidence tampering in 2005 even though Erica's body has not been found.

Carrie Culberson, 22, disappeared Aug. 28, 1996. Carrie's mother said the Blanchester woman was abused by her boyfriend, Vincent Doan. Doan told police Carrie drove to his house on the night she disappeared. He said he told her he didn't love her anymore and she drove off. The ex-wife of Doan's half-brother testified that Doan appeared at their house at 3:15 a.m. with blood smeared on his clothes. She said Doan and his half-brother drove away with a gun and some garbage bags, and both men had blood on them when they returned. The former Blanchester police chief, Richard Payton, was a friend of Doan's family and allegedly warned them that Doan was a prime suspect. Payton allegedly allowed the Doan family's property to be left unattended during a search for evidence. Footprints were discovered on the floor of a drained pond the following morning. It was speculated that Culberson's body had been removed from the pond. Doan was convicted of murder in 1997 and sentenced to life without parole, even though Carrie's body was never found.


Erica Fraysure, 17, disappeared Oct. 21, 1997. Erica had gone to school at Bracken County High that day and was last seen driving around  about 9 p.m.  Police found her car parked in a field, wedged between two large bales of hay. A classmate, Shane Simcox, said she dropped him off at his house about 9. Detectives said Erica had been hanging around with a bad crowd. Simcox was later expelled for threatening a teacher. Simcox refused to take a lie detector test about the Fraysure case, and the Kentucky State Police still considers him a person of interest.



Alana "Laney" Gwinner, 23, disappeared Dec. 9, 1997. The University of Cincinnati accounting student was last seen with friends at a bowling alley in Fairfield. After midnight, she left to drive to her boyfriend's house, but she never made it. Her boyfriend and her family went back to the bowling alley, but Laney and her car were gone. Her friends took lie detector tests and passed. A month later, on the Ohio River, a worker on a tugboat found her body in the river near Warsaw, Ky., about 65 miles away. A Butler County detective theorized that she had been accosted outside the bowling alley, killed and put in her car. He believes the car was then dumped in the river. The car was never found.

John Hundley and James McQueary, 9, disappeared Oct. 15, 1964. John and James were best friends and were often seen together in Fairfax, where they lived.

The third-graders were last seen walking to John's house from the Frisch's Mainliner on Wooster Pike about 4 p.m.  A 4-year-old girl disappeared from Fairfax two months earlier and was found murdered a few days later. A 13-year-old neighbor boy confessed. But authorities found no connection to the boys' disappearance. Three years after John and James vanished, a 17-year-old Marine stationed in California confessed to their murders. He had lived in Fairfax in 1964 and said he stabbed the boys to death and buried their bodies. But he later recanted and said he'd made up the story to get out of the military. He passed a polygraph.


Paige Johnson, 17, disappeared Sept. 23, 2010: The single mother was last seen with an acquaintance, Jacob Bumpass, at 15th and Scott streets in Covington.  Police searched East Fork State Park after Bumpass' cell phone records indicated that his phone pinged off towers near the park about the time he said he was dropping her off 30 miles away. Following tips, officials dug for Paige in a cistern in Covington and a farm in Barbourville, Ky.,to no avail. Paige's daughter, 5, lives with Paige's mother.



Katelyn Markham, 21, disappeared Aug. 14, 2011. The college art student was last seen at her Fairfield townhouse by her fiancé, John Carter. Searchers looked periodically for Katelyn for 20 months. Her skeletal remains were found April 7, 2013, near a rural creek in Franklin County, Ind. The cause of death is under investigation.



Karen Spencer, 17, disappeared Dec. 29, 1989.  The Reading High School senior left her house with her sister-in-law, Kristy. Karen was going to help her brother and Kristy box up for a move to Florida. But, Kristy said, as Karen was driving about 3 a.m. on I-275 near Loveland, they got into an argument. Karen pulled the car over and got out. Kristy told police a man in a red sports car, probably a Datsun, pulled over as well and asked if they needed help. Kristy drove away in her car and left Karen on the side of the highway with the man in the red car. Karen never came home.


Read more on our Missing Children page at  http://www.wcpo.com/generic/news/local_news/special_reports/Missing-Children


Print this article Back to Top