Katelyn Markham death case: Prosecutor points to evidence in today’s arraignment

Suspect scheduled to be back in court next week for pretrial hearing.

A Butler County Common Pleas judge has set bond for John Carter, charged with murder in the death of his fiancée Katelyn Markham, at $1 million, which was requested by Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser.

As part of the bond hearing in Butler County Common Pleas Court, Gmoser revealed a few new details about the case, stating there is evidence of trauma to the victim’s body, and said it may have been moved.

Judge Dan Haughey noted Carter has strong family ties to the community, and his employment and the seriousness of the charge during the arraignment before setting bond at cash, property or surety.

Defense attorney Chris Pagan entered a not guilty plea on Carter’s behalf and requested a “reasonable” bond with a 10 percent rule. Carter is scheduled to be back in court next week for a pretrial hearing.

Dave Markham and Ally Markham, Katelyn’s father and younger sister, sat in the front row of the courtroom. Many supporters present wore butterflies in remembrance of the free-spirited art student.

Gmoser bolstered the need for high bond with review of some evidence in the case, including an anthropologist’s report that indicates there was “sharp instrumental trauma” to Katelyn Markham’s left wrist. He also mentioned the Indiana location where her remains were found are not where they were originally placed.

In a recent search of the residence where Carter was living in 2011 turned up a folder of writings by Carter, Gmoser said. The writings were not dated, but Carter’s name was on the binder, Gmoser said.

Gmoser read portions of the writings in court that are dark and talk about death.

One read in court that Carter allegedly wrote said, “deep down I love her. You want to kill her, but I love her. She must die. I can’t kill her. Yes you can. No. Yes. How do you talk me into all these things. I am just that good.”

Gmoser read another passage, “I slit your wrists with a key to your heart.”

Then the prosecutor referenced the anthropologist report, stating there were three or four sharp force wounds to Katelyn’s left wrist.

Gmoser said the writings show the “struggle of the demon within” Carter.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

In a third passage read by Gmoser, Carter allegedly writes, “I know I will bury the body in the backyard, no I’ll bury it under the trailer and wait until the grass grows over it and leave before anyone reports it missing. Yes, that’s a great idea.”

Gmoser then told the judge the evidence is that Katelyn Markham’s remains were found years after she disappeared “in a bag 30 miles from her residence.”

“This body was meant to disappear and never to be found,” Gmoser said. He again referred to the anthropologist’s report stating, “the place where the body was ultimately found was probably not the place where the body was first deposited.”

Pagan and Carter’s defense team, including attorneys Jacob Long and Lawrence Hawkins III, had no comment after the hearing. Carter’s mother left with them and declined comment.

Carter was Markham’s fiancé in 2011 when he reported her missing from her Fairfield townhouse.

It took 12 years of investigation by multiple police agencies before the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office arrested Carter, 34, on March 22 in Markham’s death. Her remains were found in Indiana in 2013.

Dave Markham said after learning his late daughter’s fiancé was behind bars and charged with her murder, he always suspected Carter had something to do with his daughter’s death.

“I chose my words very carefully in the past,” Dave Markham told the Journal-News.

He believes his daughter may have been trying to get away from her relationship with Carter in 2011, and that’s when everything went wrong.

Carter is charged with two counts of murder under two sections of the law. The prosecution is not alleging Carter is responsible for two deaths.

According to the grand jury indictment from March 13 that was unsealed Thursday, one count is for the alleged purposeful killing, and the other is allegedly killing a person while committing a felony.

What is not part of the indictment are charges such such as tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse, both felonies, that might be expected given where Markham’s remains were found. That’s likely because the statute of limitations has run out on those charges.

According to the Ohio Revised Code, felonies, with the exception of murder, “time out” after six years, meaning a suspect cannot be charged outside that time limit.

Carter’s arrest came nearly a month after Jonathan Palmerton was indicted for perjury. He is a friend of Carter’s and a member of a tight circle of friends that included Markham.

“That is what (expletive) me off about this entire thing … now we think John Carter and possibly Palmerton has been walking around living their life for 12 years and a most-brilliant, vibrant woman has not,“ Dave Markham said. “And whoever has been living 12 years of their lives thinking they got away with murder. Katelyn has so much more potential than either one of the two that have been arrested, in my opinion.”

Markham was a 22-year-old art student when she vanished in August 2011. Her skeletal remains were found April 7, 2013, in a remote wooded area in Indiana about 30 miles from her home. Her death was ruled a homicide, but the cause of death has not been determined, and remained unsolved until Wednesday.

Palmerton, 35, of Fairfield, has a pre-trial hearing April 20. He is free on $50,000 bond set by Butler County Common Pleas Judge Jennifer McElfresh.

ExploreKatelyn Markham case: A timeline of events

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Palmerton’s indictment was sealed until Feb. 17 when search warrants were served and others were interviewed as part of an investigation into Markham’s death conducted by the prosecutor’s office, Gmoser said.

On Feb. 17, search warrants were executed at Carter’s former Fairfield residence where his mother lives and other residences of relatives of friends, according to Gmoser. Investigators from his office and the Fairfield Police Department also dug up yards looking for evidence, which was taken from the yards and homes.

Evidence was taken from the yards and homes. But Carter was not arrested at that time. Palmerton was arrested Feb. 17 when he showed up for work at a Fairfield restaurant.

Palmerton is accused of lying in connection with the investigation. It is possible he was called to testify before a grand jury, and prosecutors are alleging he did not tell the truth. Gmoser said he is not permitted by law to divulge grand jury proceedings. No additional details, including discovery and the bill of particulars, have been filed in the case.

ExploreWhat will it take to solve the Katelyn Markham mystery after 11 years?

Dave Markham said Palmerton was part of the group — that inner circle — of friends his daughter and Carter socialized with in 2011.

What happened to Katelyn Markham and how she died has remained a mystery, despite a $100,000 reward and the efforts of multiple police agencies, private detectives, television shows and a movie.

Indiana State Police and at least two private detectives also have investigated the case with no arrests, just lots of theories.

ExploreLarge crowd for film about Katelyn Markham’s death

Markham’s disappearance in August 2011 was treated as a missing person case by Fairfield police when she vanished from her Dorshire Drive residence. She did not show up for work at David’s Bridal near Tri-County Mall.

Carter, called 911 to report her missing. In the call Carter said, “I know you’re not supposed to report a missing person before 24 hours, but my fiancée is missing, and I can’t find her anywhere.”

He pointed to an annual Fairfield festival as a possible connection.

“The Sacred Heart Festival is going on right up the street and there’s lots of questionable people there and it’s just kind of — I’m sorry,” says a person who identifies himself as Carter on the recording.

Markham left her car, keys, dog, and all personal belongings with the exception of her cellphone, at her townhouse. Her cellphone was turned off at about 12:45 a.m. Aug. 14, 2011. The GPS device on her phone also was turned off.

Police and volunteers searched for months and then years for the missing woman.

When the skeletal remains were found in 2013, in a remote wooded area in Cedar Grove, Ind., within days, confirmation came that the remains were Markham’s.

ExplorePolice have person of interest, seek public help in Markham case

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