After nearly a year of reviewing and investigating the death of Fairfield’s Katelyn Markham, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office has a strong person of interest, but no arrest or enough evidence for an indictment, according to Maj. Mike Craft.
Last year, a week before Christmas, Markham's father, Dave, called a press conference and begged the sheriff's office to investigate Markham's case. The plea came more than four years after she disappeared and two years after her skeletal remains were found in Indiana. The 21-year-old art student's demise remains unsolved.
Nearly a year later, Craft said his department needs help from the public to solve the case.
“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,” Craft said. “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.”
Dave Markham said Wednesday, “This is definitely good news.”
He received a message from a sheriff’s detective Tuesday night, but did not hear the statement about the case until it hit the news.
“I feel like they have more than they have in the past, but just not enough to take to a grand jury,” Markham said.
During the December 2015 press conference David Markham and a private investigator from Florida pointed to Fairfield police as the reason for the lack of answers and why sheriff’s office detectives were needed.
This week, Craft said, “There is a whole lot of good police work that went into this case, from Fairfield and the Indiana State Police.”
Dave Markham said he believes the sheriff’s office statements about work of the FPD is just them trying not to burn bridges with another police agency.
“But you know, they do know more than I do,” Dave Markham said.
Fairfield Police Chief Mike Dickey said, as he previously has, multiple agencies have investigated the case and collectively done what they can do. He applauded the sheriff’s office efforts to solicit information to move the case forward.
“I have always said this case would be solved in the long run, it is going to take someone coming forward,” Dickey said.
Markham, a 22-year-old art student went missing from her Dorshire Drive residence during the early morning hours of Aug. 14, 2011. Police and volunteers looked for months to find the young woman who vanished leaving behind her purse, keys and her dog.
The case gained national media attention as days turned into months with no news on Markham’s whereabouts.
Then on April 7, 2013, skeletal remains were found in a remote wooded area in Cedar Grove, Ind. Within days, confirmation came that the remains were Katelyn’s, and the Franklin County Coroner ruled her death a homicide. However, the exact cause of death could not be determined.
A reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Markham’s killer has grown to $100,000 over the years.
Craft said, “We do believe there is a strong person of interest that knows about this person’s demise.”
“We are at a stand still, we need a new lead. Somebody knows what happened to this girl and we need help in finding justice,” Craft said.
In August, on Katelyn’s 27th birthday, family and friends gathered at a Springdale theater to watch the premiere of a documentary chronicling her disappearance and death.
The hour-long documentary, entitled "Taken Too Soon: The Katelyn Markham Story," explores the ongoing homicide investigation and unanswered questions.
Michael Crisp, of Remix Films in Georgetown, Ky., produced the documentary. Crisp was hired by an anonymous victim’s advocate group to bring Markham’s story to the big screen.
“We want people to see the film because it might trigger someone’s memory of the evening of the disappearance,” Crisp said. “They might know something that they’re keeping and have kept for several years, so that’s really our goal.”
Last month, Katelyn Markham’s case was featured on the syndicated TV show “Crime Watch Daily.”
In addition to Fairfield, Indiana State Police, Florida Investigator J. Ryan Green, Frank Smith, a local private investigator and retired Butler County Sheriff’s Office investigator, have been investigating the case.
The sheriff's office also reiterated information about its investigation into the Fairfield homicide of Chelsea Johnson. The 15-year-old was stabbed to death in a creek bed.
Johnson, a Fairfield Options Academy student, was found dead April 15, 2012, near a Fairfield creek close to the intersection of Pleasant Avenue and Nilles Road. Her killer remains unknown and uncharged, but investigators took the case to a grand jury for consideration in March 2015. There was no indictment returned.
“After consideration of all of the facts in the case presented to it by the prosecuting attorney of Butler County, which included two days of testimony and the presentation of nine witnesses, the grand jury has returned no indictment” against the suspect,” court documents stated in 2o15.
George Donald Davis, of Cincinnati, served a a five-year-prison sentence on charges that he attempted to exchange heroin for sex with Chelsea, but he has never been charged with the teenager’s death. He was released from prison this year.
Both the Johnson and Markham cases have a strong singular person of interest. “These are very tough cases for everyone involved. They were just kids honestly, and you really want someone to be brought to justice for these heinous acts,” said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones. “If anyone has any information at all on either of these cases, I urge you to call. Even something that may seem small can be huge in helping these victim’s families, and aid in getting those responsible off the street and behind bars.”
Contact Detective Joe Nerlinger at 513- 759-7344 with any information about these cases.
The Journal News has provided in-depth coverage of the Katelyn Markham case since her disappearance in 2011 and will continue to dig into this story to bring you the latest developments.