Twelve years after the disappearance and murder of Katelyn Markham captured national attention, her fiancé was arrested earlier this week and charged with the death of the beloved young woman.
John Carter, 34, was taken to Butler County Jail on Wednesday afternoon and his indictment has not been sealed. The indictment reads: “On or about August 13, 2011, 14, 2011, in Butler County, Ohio, John Allen Carter willfully caused the death of Katelyn Markham, which constitutes the offense of MURDER.”
Law&Crime Network has learned that at the time of his arrest, Carter initially agreed to speak to investigators, but then requested an attorney when told of his rights.
It’s unclear exactly what Carter has been up to since Markham’s death. The Butler County Clerk’s website lists a Hamilton, Ohio address as his place of residence — the house within a 10-minute drive of Markham’s apartment.
Carter is expected to appear before a judge early next week. Butler County District Attorney Michael Gmoser told Law&Crime Network that his office conducted a thorough review of the evidence and the record. He said that this investigation contains an enormous amount of detail.
In a 2011 interview with Nancy Grace, Carter claims he took a polygraph and passed the test. It is unclear whether or not this polygraph will be used as evidence in court.
Katelyn’s Last Days
Markham’s family and friends have always described her as a beautiful young woman. At 22, she was about to graduate from the Art Institute of Cincinnati in Ohio. She was engaged and saving money to move to Colorado. Markham had two jobs: one at his campus bookstore and another at David’s Bridal.
On the night of August 13, 2011, Markham arrived home at her condo in Fairfield around 9 p.m. after working at the bridal shop. Her fiancé, John Carter, was already there and later a friend of John’s stopped by briefly. Carter finally left the condo and met friends for an 11 p.m. bonfire. Markham stayed home and was reportedly annoyed by her departure. Carter said he last heard from Markham just before 1 a.m. when she texted him a photo she liked that her boss had taken. Around 4 a.m., he went to his house, which he shared with his mother, and fell asleep.
The next day, Carter said he texted Markham “hello” but never heard back. He claimed he hadn’t heard from her all day and afternoon, so he got worried and went to her apartment to check on her. His car was in the driveway, his dog was inside, but Markham was nowhere to be found.
Carter called 911 around 8 p.m. and told the operator she was missing. During the 911 call, Carter makes the following statements:
“My fiancée has disappeared, I can’t find her anywhere.”
“I saw her around 12 o’clock last night, she stays alone in a house, so I’m really nervous. Her car is still there, I tried to reach her, and I decided to go to her and see if she was okay, and her car was still there. She would be at work right now, with her car, which is why I’m really freaking out.
Fairfield police began investigating, looking for clues to his disappearance. Minutes turned into hours – hours turned into days – and there was no sign of Markham. Cell phone records showed she had sent a final text that Carter reported in the early hours of August 14, 2011, at 12:52 a.m. Since that time, investigators have found no signs of cellphone or credit card activity.
In the days following her disappearance, dozens of volunteers searched her home, Fairfield neighborhoods, the art institute and the Tri-County Mall where she worked.
On August 16, two days after her disappearance, Carter spoke to a local WCPO reporter during one of the searches for her fiancé. He said, “I’m terrified, I’m absolutely terrified. I just want to find Katelyn and celebrate her birthday with her and go to Red Lobster like she planned.
This search turned up no clues.
Two days later, Carter said, “I still believe that if she’s somewhere and she’s in the worst case, she’s fighting her way out. I still want to believe it. Because she is strong. I know she is strong.
Those Markham research days turned into weeks — those weeks turned into months — and those months turned into years.
It wasn’t until April 7, 2013, nearly two years after her disappearance, that there was a break in the case.
Thirty miles from Markham’s apartment in Cedar Grove, Indiana, a couple found human remains along a rural road. The couple were said to be looking for scrap metal when they came across what appeared to be a human jawbone. A few yards away, they found a skull – with hair still attached – inside a grocery bag. The couple called 911.
Using dental records, a Franklin County, Indiana coroner confirmed the remains belonged to Markham and ruled her death a homicide – but her cause of death was listed as ‘unknown’ .
A private detective
In the years following the discovery of the skeleton, Markham’s family hired a private detective to investigate the matter. While Fairfield Police and the Indiana State Police conducted their own investigations, Markham’s family reportedly felt that too few resources were being devoted to their daughter’s death. “
At this point, I’m devastated by the missed opportunities,” Markham’s father, David Markham, said at a press conference in 2015.
At that same press conference, the private investigator they hired, J. Ryan Greene, told the media that there was new evidence in the case that could lead to an arrest if the DNA could be tested in the laboratory.
“There could be an arrest if it comes back favorably,” Green said, referring to that piece of evidence and his DNA.
12 years later, an arrest
Ten years after Markham’s remains were discovered – in February 2023 – an arrest has been made in connection with his murder.
Jonathan Palmerton, an acquaintance of Markham, was arrested for perjury, accused of lying to investigators.
“Even though these were perjury charges, we are nearing the end,” Markham’s father said in an interview with a local Fox19 reporter.
He was right – less than a month later, on March 13 – an indictment was filed against Carter on two counts of murder.
After hearing the news of the arrest, Markham’s father told Fox19, “I’m numb. I’m shaking. I am so relieved. It is not a surprise. I suspected him from the start, I think a lot of people, if not a large majority of people suspected him.
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