Katelyn Markham death case: Man withdraws motion to seal dropped perjury charge

Prosecution turns over more evidence in pending case against John Carter, accused of murder.

A Fairfield man who was the first to be charged in connection with the county prosecutor’s office’s probe into the 2011 death of Katelyn Markham withdrew his motion seeking to seal the record of the charge dismissed by the state.

Jonathan Palmerton, 35, was indicted for perjury in February as the cold case investigation came to light that eventually led to the arrest of Markham’s fiancé John Carter on the charge of murder.

According to the indictment, Palmerton was 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.”

That charge was dismissed in May.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said at the brief hearing in May it was a matter of timing concerning cases against both men.

In July, Palmerton’s attorney Ken Crehan filed a motion in Butler County Common Pleas Court to have the dismissed case sealed including “record of arrest, charges, and grand jury and other material filed.”

Judge Jennifer McElfresh has set a hearing for Thursday but the motion was withdrawn by Crehan on Monday.

There was no reason given for the withdraw and Crehan did not respond to requests for comment.

Gmoser said four months ago the plan is to go back to a grand jury to re-indict Palmerton after the Carter trial.

He told the Journal-News Thursday the comment still stands. Gmoser had no comment about Palmerton’s attorney withdrawing the seal request.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Carter, who is free after posting a $1 million bond, is also due back in court on Sept. 12 for a status report hearing before Judge Dan Haughey.

What will happen at that hearing? Gmoser said “I think the judge is just going to inquire about the amount of discovery and how that is being handled.”

Prosecutors have turned over three rounds of discovery to Carter’s defense team that include hundreds of items, some apparently obtained as recently as this summer.

The latest supplemental discovery filed Wednesday included audio and video interviews of witnesses identified only by initials, six photographs from Sacred Heart Festival on Aug. 13, 2011; 49 photos and two videos from the Sacred Heart Festival on Aug. 11, 2023; four photos and one video from W. Scioto Drive on Aug. 13, 2023: six videos of drive from 5214 Dorshire to 7068 Big Cedar Road on Aug. 13, 2023 and a video of area near 7068 Big Cedar Road (Indiana) on Aug. 13, 2023, according to court documents.

“As these cases start spinning, there is more material that comes about as the result of the charge having been brought,” Gmoser said. “Just because there is in indictment doesn’t mean that we stop our investigation. It is still moving forward and I am still interviewing witnesses and potential witnesses,” Gmoser said Thursday.

Markham, a free-spirited art student, was just days away from her 22nd birthday when she vanished in August 2011 from her Fairfield townhouse. 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.

It remained unsolved until March 2023 when an 18-month investigation by the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office resulted in Carter’s arrest.

At arraignment, Gmoser shared some of the investigative evidence against Carter that is included in an affidavit for search warrants to search a number of locations, including Carter’s family home and Palmerton’s 2011 residence.

Investigators from his office and the Fairfield Police Dept. also dug up yards looking for evidence. Evidence was taken from the yards and homes.

What happened to Markham and how she died has remained a mystery for years, 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 had investigated the case with no arrests, just lots of theories.

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.

Carter called 911 to report her missing.

Markham left her car, keys, dog and all personal belongings, with the exception of her cell phone, 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.

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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