In 2014 on the two-year anniversary of Chelsea Johnson’s homicide, family and friends, including Chelsea’s mother Vicky Fible (center), held a protest outside the Butler County Government Services Center.
Photo: Greg Lynch
Photo: Greg Lynch

3 unsolved Fairfield homicides: National show brings new attention to Butler County cases

A recent Discovery ID channel show, “Still a Mystery,” featured the disappearance and death of Fairfield’s Katelyn Markham. The 22-year-old art student went missing from her Dorshire Drive residence during the early-morning hours of Aug. 14, 2011.

Katelyn Markham (left, clockwise), Joey Oakley and Chelsea Johnson are victims of unsolved homicides in Fairfield.

Police and volunteers searched for months. She left behind her purse, keys that were tossed in the middle of her bed and a dog that was locked in an upstairs bedroom.

MORE: 8 unsolved homicide cases that continue to haunt Butler County

Then on April 7, 2013, skeletal remains were found in a remote wooded area in Cedar Grove, Indiana. 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.

In the two years between Markham’s disappearance and her remains being discovered, Chelsea Johnson, 15, and Joey Oakley, 19, both Fairfield Options Academy students, were found dead near creek beds in the city.

Johnson was found April 16, 2012 stabbed to death near a creek close to the intersection of Pleasant Avenue and Nilles Road.

George D. Davis II, of Cincinnati, who was sent to prison for drug trafficking, importuning, and having weapons under disability for attempting to exchange heroin for sex with Johnson, was released from prison in 2017, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Davis was arrested in May in Hamilton County on a felony charge of promoting prostitution. His case is awaiting presentation to a grand jury where more charges could be filed.

MORE: No indictment in Fairfield teen’s unsolved murder

Authorities have said a grand jury did not return an indictment against a suspect in the case, despite a year-long investigation in which the Butler County Sheriff’s Office took a fresh look at the case.

Fairfield Detective Doug Day said the department investigates all leads in the three cases.

“We are aware of the recent arrest of George Davis II in Hamilton County. How Davis’ arrest will affect our investigation into the death of Chelsea Johnson is still being determined,” Day said.

Vicky Fible, Johnson’s mother, expressed frustration about the lack of progress in her daughter’s case and said she hasn’t communicated with Fairfield police in years.

Fible said she believes the case was botched from the beginning because detectives placed blame on her. After further investigation, including her passing lie detector tests, “I cleared my name,” she said.

Oakley was found dead near a creek in Fairfield on Aug. 30, 2012. He was shot several times with a small-caliber weapon in the chest, but early in the investigation police said they believed he had fallen and hit his head on a rock and his body was found leaning against a tree. His body was found a few hundred feet from where Johnson’s body was found.

The most recent television segment recapping the Markham case pointed to multiple persons of interest, including Michael Strouse, a man convicted last year in the death of 23-year-old Ellen “Ellie” Weik at his Liberty Twp. home.

Within hours after Strouse’s arrest, Fairfield police confirmed a meeting with West Chester Police Department, who investigated the Weik case.

Det. Vance Patton of the Indiana State Police said ISP led the investigation after her body was found in their state. But he said she went missing from Fairfield, and it’s doubtful her death happened where the remains were found.

“I don’t know what to make of Fairfield PD,” said Markham’s father, Dave. “That infuriates me. I think everyone is pretty much convinced she wasn’t murdered in Indiana. They just don’t want to do anything.”

The reward of information leading information about Markham’s death has grown to $100,000. Patton believes that points to one person being involved.

MORE: Police have a person of interest, seek help in the Markham case 

“(The) $100,000 is no good to (the person who did it), but if someone else was involved and maybe just saw something or helped move the body, you would think they might come forward,” Patton said.

Dave Markham said last week he had not yet seen the latest show about the case and doesn’t know if it will turn up new evidence.

“I always have hope, but I learned a long time ago to take each one of these with a grain of salt because I might get my hopes up, then they got dashed,” he said. “The highs got higher and the lows got lower. I have learned to just put it aside and hope and pray. But I don’t get my hopes up anymore.

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