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Fiancé to suspected killer: Arrest made in 12-year-old murder mystery of young Ohio bride-to-be


Katelyn Markham (Facebook: In Memory of Katelyn Markham)

Twelve years after Katelyn Markham’s disappearance and murder gained national attention, her fiancé was arrested earlier this week and charged with the beloved young woman’s death.

John Carter, 34, was booked into the Butler County Jail Wednesday afternoon and his indictment was unsealed. The indictment reads, “On or about August 13, 2011, through August 14, 2011, in Butler County, Ohio, John Allen Carter did purposefully cause the death of Katelyn Markham which constitutes the offense of MURDER.”

Law&Crime Network learned that at the time of his arrest, Carter initially agreed to talk to investigators, but then asked for a lawyer when advised of his rights.

John Carter (Butler County Jail)

It’s unclear what exactly Carter has been doing since Markham’s death. The Butler County Clerk’s website lists a Hamilton, Ohio address as his place of residency — the home less than a 10-minute drive from Markham’s apartment.

Carter is expected to appear before a judge early next week. Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser told Law&Crime Network his office conducted a thorough review of the evidence and case file. He said this investigation contains a tremendous amount of detail.

In a 2011 interview with Nancy Grace, Carter claims he took a polygraph and passed the test. It’s unknown whether or not that polygraph will be used as evidence in court.

Katelyn’s Final Days

Markham’s family and friends have always described her as beautiful, young woman. At 22 years old, she was getting ready to graduate from the Art Institute of Cincinnati in Ohio. She was engaged and saving up money to move to Colorado. Markham had two jobs: one at her campus book store, and another at David’s Bridal.

On the night of August 13, 2011, Markham arrived home to her condo in Fairfield around 9 pm after working at the bridal shop. Her fiancé, John Carter, was already there and later, a friend of John’s stopped by briefly. Carter eventually left the condo and met up with some friends for a bonfire at 11 p.m. Markham stayed home, and was reportedly annoyed with him for leaving. Carter said he last heard from Markham just before 1 a.m. when she texted him a photo she liked that her boss had taken. Around 4 a.m., he went to his home, which he shared with his mother, and fell asleep.

The next day, Carter said he sent Markham a ‘good morning’ text but he never heard back. He claimed he didn’t hear from her all day and afternoon, so he got worried and went over to her condo to check on her. Her car was in the driveway, her dog was inside, but Markham was no where to be found.

Katelyn Markham (Facebook: In Memory of Katelyn Markham)

Carter called 911 around 8 p.m. and told the operator she was missing. In the 911 call, Carter makes the following statements:

“My fiancé is missing, I can’t find her anywhere.”

“I saw her at like 12 o’clock last night, she stays in a house by herself, so I’m really nervous. Her car is still there, I like had been trying to get a hold of her, and I decided to go by her house and see if she was okay, and her car was still there. She would be at work right now, with her car, which is why I’m like really freaking out.”

The Search For Katelyn

The Fairfield Police started investigating, searching for clues in her disappearance. Minutes became hours — hours became days — and there was no sign of Markham. Cell phone records showed she sent a final text that Carter reported in the early hours of August 14, 2011, at 12:52 a.m. Since that moment in time, investigators found no signs of cell phone or credit card activity.

In the days after her disappearance, dozens of volunteers searched around her home, neighborhoods in Fairfield, the art institute and the Tri-County Mall where she worked.

A group heads out over the hill at Harbin Park in Fairfield, Ohio they where part of a wider search of Katelyn Markham. (AP Photo/The Cincinnati Enquirer, Tony Jones)

On August 16, two days after her disappearance, Carter spoke with a local WCPO reporter during one of the searches for his fiancé. He said, “I’m terrified, I’m absolutely terrified. I just want to find Katelyn and celebrate her birthday with her and go to Red Lobster like she was planning.”

That search yielded no clues.

Two days later, Carter said, “I keep believing that if she is somewhere and is in the worst case scenario, that she fights her way out. I keep wanting to believe that. Because, she is strong. I know she’s strong.”

Those days of searching for Markham turned into weeks — those weeks turned into months — and those months turned into years.

David Markham the father of Katelyn Markham thanks the volunteers who came out to Harbin Park in Fairfield, Ohio to join in on a wider search for his daughter. (AP Photo/The Cincinnati Enquirer, Tony Jones)

Remains Found

It wasn’t until April 7, 2013 — nearly two years after he disappearance — that there was a break in the case.

Investigators roped off the area where Katelyn Markham’s remains were found in Indiana. (Screengrab: Fox19)

Thirty miles away from Markham’s condo, in Cedar Grove, Indiana, a couple found human remains along a rural road. The couple was reportedly looking for scrap metal when they came across what appeared to be a human jaw. Feet away, they found a skull — with hair still attached to it — inside a grocery bag. The couple called 911.

Using dental records, a Franklin County, Indiana coroner confirmed the remains were Markham’s and ruled her death a homicide — however her cause of death was classified as “unknown.”

A couple searching for scrap metal found Katelyn Markham’s remains on the side of a rural road. (Screengrab: Cincinnati Enquirer)

A Private Investigator

In the years following the skeletal discovery, Markham’s family hired a private investigator to look into the case. While the Fairfield Police and Indiana State Police had their own investigations, Markham’s family reportedly felt that not enough resources were being dedicated to their daughter’s death. “

At his point, I am devastated by the missed opportunities,” Markham’s father, David Markham, said in a 2015 press conference.

Katelyn Markham (Facebook: In Memory of Katelyn Markham)

In that same press conference, the private investigator they hired, J. Ryan Greene, told the media there was a new piece of evidence in the case that could lead to an arrest if DNA could be tested in a lab.

“There could be an arrest if it comes back favorably,” Green said, in reference to that piece of evidence and DNA.

12 Years Later, An Arrest

 Ten years after Markham’s remains were found — in February 2023 — an arrest was made in connection to her murder.

Jonathan Palmerton, an acquaintance of Markham’s, was arrested for perjury, accused of lying to investigators.

Jonathan Palmerton (Bulter County Jail)

“Even though it was perjury charges, we’re near the end,” Markham’s father said in an interview with a Fox19 local news reporter.

He wasn’t wrong — less than a month later, on March 13 — an indictment was filed against Carter for two counts of murder.

After learning news of the arrest, Markham’s father told Fox19 “I’m numb. I’m shaking. I’m so relieved. It’s not a surprise. I did suspect him all along, I think a lot of people, If not a vast majority of people suspected him.”

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