Katelyn Markham death case: Jonathan Palmerton, accused of perjury, arraigned

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

HAMILTON — Bond was set at $50,000 for a man accused of lying during official proceedings in connection with the investigation into the 2011 death of Katelyn Markham.

Jonathan Palmerton was arraigned Wednesday in Butler County Common Pleas Court after having been arrested Friday when he showed up for work at a Fairfield restaurant. He was booked into the Butler County Jail for perjury.

According to court records, bond was posted shortly Palmerton’s morning arraignment.

Markham was a 22-year-old art student residing in Fairfield when she vanished in April 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 remains unsolved.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

At Wednesday’s arraignment, Palmerton’s attorney Kenneth Crehan entered a not guilty plea and asked for him to be released on his own recognizance or a reasonable bond.

Crehan said Palmerton, 35, is a Fairfield High School alum, is employed, owns his own house and has two children.

“As the court knows, the state has approximately 12 years of investigation on this case,” Crehan said, noting Palmerton has been interviewed by investigators and “always cooperated.”

Crehan also said the perjury charge is a third-degree felony that does not carry a mandatory or presumption of a jail sentence.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser requested a substantial bond on behalf of the state.

“The allegation in this charge is serious. It involves credibility ... the charge is very serious,” Gmoser said.

Judge Jennifer McElfresh set the $50,000 cash or surety bond and ordered GPS monitoring if Palmerton is released from jail. He is scheduled to be back in court March 30 for a pre-trial hearing.

Crehan declined comment after the hearing.

Gmoser said Palmerton was indicted by a grand jury and that indictment was sealed until Friday when search warrants were served and others were interviewed as part of an investigation into Markham’s death his office has conducted for months.

According to the indictment, on April 21, 2022 Palmerton is accused of making a false statement “under oath or affirmation, or knowingly swear or affirm the truth of a false statement previously made, when either statement is material.”

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 Wednesday he is not permitted by law to divulge grand jury proceedings.

“This is the first public step in a very long, detailed investigation,” Gmoser said noting multiple agencies, including the FBI have been involved, “The search that took place last week is not like McDonald’s where you get fast food or the results the same day.”

Search warrants were executed at a former Fairfield residence of Katelyn’s fiancé, John Carter, and a person described as a friend of Carter, according to Gmoser. Investigators from his office and the Fairfield Police Department also dug up yards looking for evidence.

Evidence was taken from the yards and homes.

Carter was not arrested, and there are no charges pending.

Gmoser said he also talked to Katelyn’s father after the search warrants were served.

“I am so thankful and so grateful,” Markham said on Friday choking back tears. “It is about damn time.”

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 remains 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.

In 2020, a Discovery ID channel show, “Still a Mystery,” featured Markham’s disappearance and death. There was renewed hope it may turn up fresh information leading to an arrest. It did not.

Markham’s disappearance 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.

Markham’s fiancé, John 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 cell phone was turned off at about 12:45 a.m. on 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 April 2013 in a remote wooded area in Cedar Grove, Ind., within days, confirmation came that the remains were Markham’s.

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