Search warrants served, arrest made in connection to Katelyn Markham case

Fairfield woman’s remains were found years after death.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said in September 2022 his office was investigating the cold case of Katelyn Markham, who went missing from her Fairfield home during the early morning hours of Aug. 14, 2011.

On Friday, that investigation became public and visible.

Search warrants were executed at a former Fairfield residence of the 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.

Jonathan Palmerton, 35, was taken into custody when he showed up for work at a Fairfield restaurant. Palmerton is charged with perjury for allegedly lying in connection with the investigation.

“This is not the beginning of the end, this is truly the end of the beginning as far as the investigation is concerned, Gmoser said.

Palmerton was indicted by a grand jury and it was served on him at the same time the search warrants were being served.

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“The investigation of the Katelyn Markham case has now gone into a more public stage and will continue,” Gmoser said.

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

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

What happened to the 22-year-old art student 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.

Katelyn’s remains were found in Indiana years after her death.

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

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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. A missing person’s report was filed after 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 cellphone 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.

Then on April 7, 2013, skeletal remains were found in a remote wooded area in Indiana about 30 miles from Fairfield. Within days, confirmation came that the remains were Markham’s, and the Franklin County coroner ruled her death a homicide. However, her exact cause of death could not be determined.

Credit: Greg Lynch

Credit: Greg Lynch

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In 2015, at the urging of Dave Markham, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office put fresh eyes on the case. After months of investigation, sheriff’s detectives announced there was a suspect in the case but not enough information for a prosecution.

“This case was heavily investigated by the Fairfield Police Department and the Indiana State Police before we took a look at it. We interviewed 20 people and conducted three polygraphs,” Maj. Mike Craft said in November 2016.

“We were given a list of several people of interest and we have narrowed it down to a strong person of interest, but we need some help with the case.”

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