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‘Justice for Katelyn. It’s coming’: Dark details revealed after man charged with 2011 murder of fiancee


An Ohio man charged with murdering his fiancee in 2011 allegedly had help dumping her body from a man whose name has been redacted in an affidavit for a search warrant that reveals new details about the years-long investigation.

Last month, a grand jury in Butler County, Ohio, indicted John Carter, 34, for the murder of Katelyn Markham. Markham was a 21-year-old art student who disappeared from her townhome in Fairfield, north of Cincinnati, on Aug. 13, 2011. Carter reported her missing when he called 911 the following evening.

“Hi, my name is John Carter. And I know that you’re not supposed to report a missing person before 24 hours, um, but my fiancee is missing. I can’t find her anywhere,” Carter said on the call.

Carter claimed he last saw Markham at her home the evening before around midnight. He said her keys and purse were at her home, but her cellphone was missing. Investigators have not located Markham’s BlackBerry.

When she disappeared, Markham was studying graphic arts and working at a bridal shop. She and Carter were planning to move to Colorado, but some have said she was having second thoughts about making the move with Carter.

Some long-suspected Carter had something to do with Markham’s disappearance – including her father, Dave Markham, although he kept those feelings to himself and those close to him until after Carter’s arrest last month.

“I wasn’t surprised. I think some people were surprised,” Dave Markham said. “I’m disappointed that it took 11 1/2 years and that he got to be free, decide what he was going to wear that day or do whatever he was going to do that day. And Katelyn did not have that opportunity.”

Dave Markham and hundreds of volunteers, some from other states, searched for Katelyn for months following her disappearance. Members of the group Texas Equusearch drove to Ohio to help. Dave Markham and friends founded an Ohio chapter of Equusearch, an organization that searches for people using horses.

More than a year passed with no sign of Katelyn Markham. In April 2013, a man looking for scrap metal to sell in a wooded area in Indiana found a skull in a plastic bag and called 911. Other skeletal remains were found in the same area about 30 miles from Markham’s home. The location raised eyebrows among some who knew Markham and Carter then because it was along a route that could be driven to a property Carter’s father owned. 

Using dental records, a pathologist identified Markham’s remains and determined her death was a homicide. A cause of death has not been determined.

At a recent hearing for Carter, Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser referenced a report from a forensic anthropologist who determined Markham’s remains had decomposed significantly before being placed where they were found.

“She was just a wonderful, exuberant person, and she liked everybody to be in a good mood and happy,” Dave Markham to Law&Crime’s Angenette Levy in an interview for Sidebar. “That’s what breaks my heart, what she would have accomplished 12 years later, where she would be in her career and her life. And a lot of people are going to miss out on something that she had to offer.”

On March 22, police took Carter into custody. Carter initially agreed to speak with detectives but changed his mind and asked for an attorney. He pleaded not guilty and posted a $1 million bond.

Carter’s arrest came shortly after a friend, Jonathan Palmerton, was charged with lying to the grand jury investigating Katelyn’s murder. His trial is set for August.

Dark Writings About Love and Murder

During a recent hearing for Carter, Gmoser read from undated poetry found during the execution of a search warrant at the home of Carter’s mother. It discussed killing and love.

“Deep down, I love her. You want to kill her, but I love her. She must die. I can’t kill her. Yes, you can. No. Yes. How do you talk me into all these things? I am just that good,” Gmoser read. Gmoser then discussed a door seized from the home of Carter’s mother that had “I slit your wrists with the key to your heart” scrawled on it.

Carter’s attorney claimed during the same hearing that his client suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Investigation Unfolds

A 25-page affidavit and search warrant were unsealed this week. The affidavit, supplied to a judge to support the request for a search warrant, listed more than 125 points to establish probable cause that prosecutors said showed Carter was involved in Markham’s murder.

It begins by stating plastic landscaping or construction material was found wrapped around Markham’s remains when they were found and that investigators believed they would find a roll of that plastic at his mother’s home.

The affidavit claims Carter gave different stories about what happened the night of Aug. 13, 2011. Police noted they saw red scratches on Aug. 14 and that Carter claimed he cut himself with an electric razor.

The affidavit states that Carter described Markham as “huffy” and “upset” the night of Aug. 13. It also claims Carter admitted to deleting text messages between him and Markham between 7:53 and 11:36 that night.

The affidavit claims Carter showed signs of deception during two polygraph tests when asked about Katelyn Markham’s disappearance. One was conducted in 2011, and a second in 2014.

The affidavit also quotes a woman who said Markham confided in her that she felt “trapped” in her relationship with Carter and was unhappy with his lifestyle, which included heavy drug use and viewing of pornography.

Markham, the woman recalled to investigators, was no longer sexually attracted to Carter and felt uncomfortable with some sex acts he wanted her to engage in. This conversation took place three to six months before Markham disappeared. The woman said Markham told her that Carter was possessive and jealous and became upset when she spoke to other men.

The Path Forward

The last 11 years have been painful for Dave Markham and his family as he has waited to see whether an arrest would ever be made in his daughter’s murder. He remembers his daughter as “bubbly and cheerful” and feels thankful for the people who’ve offered their support and help to find Katelyn.

“We still have another year or so left to go, but I know everybody’s going to stick with me and stick with Katelyn. And, you know, justice for Katelyn, it’s coming,” Markham said.

Carter’s trial is scheduled for June 2024.

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Angenette Levy is a correspondent and host for the Law&Crime Network. Angenette has worked in newsrooms in Green Bay, Wisconsin and Cincinnati, Ohio. She has covered a number of high-profile criminal cases in both state and federal courts throughout her career including the trials of Steven Avery, Brooke “Skylar” Richardson and most recently the trials of Kyle Rittenhouse and former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. She was nominated for an Emmy in 2015 for a story she covered in which she found a missing toddler who was the subject of an Amber Alert. Angenette is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati.