Police make arrest related to case of murdered Tri-State woman Katelyn Markham

Katelyn Markham’s body was discovered two years after her mysterious disappearance. Rumors have swirled about possible suspects, and the case has gained national attention.
Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 4:59 PM EST
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Eleven years after a Fairfield woman disappeared, police have made their first arrest in connection to the case.

Katelyn Markham was last seen on Aug. 13, 2011.

Investigators on Friday arrested a man named Jonathan Palmerton on one count of perjury, according to the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office. He is currently being held at the Butler County Jail.

Jonathan Palmerton
Jonathan Palmerton(Butler County Jail)

The prosecutor’s office says Palmerton’s arrest is “associated with the investigation of the Markham case.”

The years-long investigation has involved multiple jurisdictions including the prosecutor’s office, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations, the FBI, Fairfield PD and the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

No other details are available at this time.

“I just want to thank everyone who has stuck with Katelyn and not let her case go cold,” Katelyn’s father, Dave Markham, said Friday. “I appreciate all the support. Thank God and friends.”

Dave wants people to remember Katelyn has a sister, Ally, who was young when Katelyn disappeared and has had to mourn the loss of her a as well.

Investigators found Katelyn‘s purse, keys and dog at her condo after her disappearance in 2011.

The last person to see her alive, investigators say, was John Carter, her fiancé at the time. He called 911 to report her missing.

“She was at her house, going to bed, she wasn’t going out to do anything, she would have been in her bed, I mean I’ve been with her for six years she’s not deceiving,” he told the call taker, according to a copy of the call previously obtained by FOX19. He also claimed the couple did not have an argument before she disappeared.

In the days after Katelyn’s disappearance, hundreds of volunteers flooded the Fairfield community, searching for any sign of her.

A glimmer of hope lingered for years but vanished in April 2013, when Katelyn’s remains were found at a dumpsite in Cedar Grove, Indiana, about 33 miles from Fairfield. Her death was declared a homicide shortly afterward. Her cause of death remains unknown.

Texas EquuSearch teams helped the Franklin County, Indiana coroner collect what they could find of Katelyn’s remains. Ohio Chapter Director Dave Rader said it was especially emotional because Katelyn’s father was there too.

“That was gut-wrenching to sit there and just watch a man take scoops of dirt and try to find pieces of what was left of his daughter,” Rader said. “We don’t normally do that, but he insisted on it, and how can you tell a father no?”

The discovery, although devastating, gave investigators new evidence.

In 2016 they announced they had a person of interest, but have never named him publicly.

Dave Markham, Katelyn’s father, described her as someone who radiated warmth and compassion.

“I think everybody knows by now that she was very bubbly. She was just very warm, outgoing, positive, energetic, always wanted people to be happy,” he said. “She’s not forgotten, and she won’t be forgotten.”

As the case caught the eye of national news outlets and became the focus of a private investigator’s podcast, rumors started flying and tips started coming in.

Retired Butler County Detective Frank Smith said those closest to Katelyn have been examined and questioned repeatedly, including her relatives and her then fiancé, Carter. Smith said Carter was “scrutinized very heavily during this case,”

Seven years into the investigation, another person popped up on the radar: convicted killer Michael Strouse. Strouse is responsible for the 2018 death of West Chester woman Ellie Weik. He shares mutual friends with Carter and he reportedly confessed to a fellow inmate that he killed a second woman named Shelly and left her body by a creek.

A private investigator who looked into Katelyn’s case pointed to Strouse as a solid suspect and potential lead.

Said Smith, “That individual was in Katelyn’s circle, so law enforcement is absolutely going to rip him apart and find out if there’s any connection between him and her demise.”

Investigators have not said whether they have connected Strouse to Katelyn’s case in any way, but Fairfield police and West Chester police have had meetings.

Anyone with information on Katelyn’s unsolved murder is asked to call Fairfield Police at 513-867-6094, Crime Stoppers at 513-352-3040 or the Butler County Sheriff’s Office at (513) 785-1000.

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