(Article was written in 2014)
In the quiet college town of Middlebury, Vermont, Police Chief Thomas Hanley still wonders about a teenaged girl he never met. Her picture is under the glass that covers his desk and has been there since he took the job in 1991. She has shoulder length brown hair with hazel colored eyes and she looks older than her twelves years of age. Her name is Doreen Vincent and she is a stark reminder of his days as a former detective in Wallingford, Connecticut. For several years, Hanley tried to find answers as to what happened to her. To this day, he never could find the answer that eluded him.
“The one piece of unfinished business I left behind in Wallingford, which has haunted me, was the Vincent case.” Hanley said. “She was just a twelve year old girl.”
Doreen was last seen alive on the evening of June 15th, 1988 at Mark Vincent’s residence on Whirlwind Road in Wallingford. Mark was Doreen’s father and he lived there with his wife, Sharon Hutchins and their children. They had been there for only two weeks prior and had just moved from the town of Bethel. Doreen split time over the years between both of her biological parents. Her mother, Donna Lee had lived in both Bridgeport and Waterbury.
Most of her friends were in Bridgeport and according to relatives, she missed them. On June 15th, she had a violent argument with her father. According to Sharon Hutchins, Doreen left the house around 8:30 to 9:00 pm with around fifty dollars in cash. Mark Vincent believed that his daughter was trying to hitch a ride back to Bridgeport.
At first, Police and family members thought she had run away because she was unhappy being in Wallingford. They believed that the five foot four inch, one hundred and ten pound girl was a runaway.
The case soon changed from being a runaway to something more sinister, when Hanley took over the investigation. He along with two other detectives, Rich Kearns and Bob Flis, soon determined that she may have met with foul play.
Hanley felt that Mark Vincent’s story had inconsistencies and lies in it. Hanley was also troubled with Mark Vincent’s lack of caring that his daughter was missing. She had been missing for two days before Donna Lee went to pick her up. Mark Vincent did not notify anyone outside his house that Doreen had left. He even refused to file a missing person’s report. He was insistent that Doreen would turn up at her mother’s house. It was Donna Lee that went to police and filed a missing person’s report.
Further investigation by police revealed what they thought was an unusual father-daughter relationship. Items were found in Mark Vincent’s possession that he had claimed his daughter had taken with her. The most damning piece of circumstantial evidence against Mark Vincent was an alleged sighting of him and his truck at a park in the town of Bethel around the time Doreen went missing. The park is located in proximity to the Huntington State Forest in Connecticut. Over the years, Police have searched the park with cadaver dogs but have never found any trace of Doreen.
While the pain has diminished over time for Donna Lee, the not knowing and the sadness has not. She still misses her older daughter at birthdays and holidays. She feels a piece of herself is missing in the disappearance of her oldest child.
“She was so full of life. She loved her little sister and used to baby her a lot. She got her to go on scary ride and they were close,” Lee proudly exclaimed. “My youngest daughter is now thirty and misses her terribly. She has three sons and they sometimes ask questions about their aunt.”
Mark Mikulski is a Lieutenant for the Wallingford Police Department and the Detective Division Commander. He insists that the case is still very active.
“In the past year Doreen’s familial DNA was directly compared against one discovered human remains case in Connecticut and another in Wisconsin. And as recent as October 6, 2014, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children forwarded us a tip that they received. To date none of this information has added any substantial facts to the case”.
Despite being the focus of the investigation, Police refuse to publically name Mark Vincent as a suspect.
Mark Vincent feels that the Wallingford Police have it all wrong.
“I loved her. She was my oldest daughter. I know one day I will see her again in Heaven. “I did not do anything to her,” Vincent, a born again Christian said. “I want to know what happened to her. The Police have nothing so they focused on me. ”
His voice choked up when he said that people still ask him what his oldest child would be today.
“I tell them that she would be a nurse,” Vincent stated. “Because she cared about people.”
It also turns out, at one time there was another person looked at in the disappearance of Doreen Vincent.
During April of 2000, a man by the name of Hadden Clark revisited the city of Meriden under heavy police supervision and constraints. Clark is a cross dressing, cannibal killer who resides in the Western Correctional Institution in Maryland. He is serving the equivalent of what will be a life sentence for the separate slayings of his six year old neighbor Michelle Dorr, and twenty three year old Laura Houghteling.
Hadden Clark claims to have killed at least ten more women in several Atlantic states including Connecticut. His grandparents owned property in Meriden until the early 1980s. Clark, who likes to dress as woman, demanded that he be allowed to wear women’s clothing as he and another inmate who Clark believed was “Jesus Christ” look for human remains in the shadow of the Hanging Hills of Meriden. In the end, nothing was found and law enforcement theorized that Clark was just fabricating other potential crimes.
Violence is not a stranger in Clark’s family. His older brother Bradfield Clark murdered and dismembered his 29 year old co-worker Patricia Mak at his apartment in Los Gatos California in 1984. He is serving a life sentence for that crime at the California State Prison in Solano.
Adrain Havill, is a former true crime author who wrote the book, “Born Evil” detailing the life and crimes of Hadden Clark. He interviewed the killer several times and doubts that Clark had anything to do with the disappearance of Doreen Vincent.
“I asked Hadden about this and recall getting a letter about this which I turned over to the FBI, “ Havill explained. “The bottom line is that everyone concluded is that he just wanted a field trip in an SUV to Connecticut. Besides being a schizophrenic cannibal, he is also a con man who wanted free fast [food] meals and a nicer prison to stay in. “
However, Havill is convinced that Hadden and Bradford Clark may have more victims.
“The two victims that Hadden was convicted of killing, he led Maryland police to their bodies. One of the burial locations in Massachusetts that he led police to had a bucket of jewelry that he had collected. Some of that jewelry belonged to one of his [known] victims,” Havill stated. “Question is, did he buy the others pieces or were they from other victims that we don’t know about? These were brutal crimes and it is likely that these known murders were not the first that the Clark brothers may have committed.”
Havill, is convinced that Doreen Vincent is not one of those possible victims.
Mikulski confirmed that at one time Hadden Clark was looked at by other law enforcement agencies in Connecticut but that nothing pointed to Clark’s involvement with Doreen. According to him, all options are being looked at in the case.
“Mark Vincent was interviewed at length concerning the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Doreen.” Mikuslki clarified. “As we’ve said in the past, we were never satisfied with his account of what occurred the day that she went missing. His explanations still remain suspect.”
Doreen Vincent’s mother, Donna Lee has no illusions as to who she believes took her daughter away from her.
“I believe he’s a sociopath and he’ll take it to his grave.” Lee explained. “He’s lied time and time again.”
As time passes by, parts of the investigation become more difficult. Sharon Hutchins, who was Doreen’s step-mother at the time she disappeared, has since died. Several of the detectives who worked on the case have taken other jobs or retired. The one constant though is that Doreen Vincent is still missing three decades later.
For more information about this case, listen to the Podcast Fadeout which talks about the disappearance of Doreen Vincent.
It can be listened on Apple Itunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/faded-out/id1368774434?mt=2