Fiancé of Katelyn Markham arrested for her murder, prosecutor says

The notorious case of Markham’s slaying has garnered attention nationwide.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 4:48 PM EDT
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FAIRFIELD, Ohio (WXIX) - The fiancé of Katelyn Markham has been arrested on two counts of murder in connection with her death, according to Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser.

John Carter, who was Markham’s fiancé when she disappeared in 2011, was taken into custody Wednesday, the prosecutor confirmed to FOX19 NOW.

Katelyn was last seen at her Fairfield apartment on Aug. 13, 2011, police said at the time. Her remains were discovered at a dump site in Cedar Grove, Indiana, in April 2013.

It has been more than a decade since Dave Markham last saw his daughter.

After learning of Carter’s arrest Wednesday, he said it comes as no surprise.

“It’s not a surprise. I mean, I did suspect him all along,” Dave said Wednesday. “I think a lot of people, if not a vast majority of people, suspected him. Statistically, it’s the spouse or the boyfriend, or you know, I mean, 95% of cases like this, it’s their spouse or boyfriend or fiancé. So, if you’re looking at it, it should’ve happened.”

John Carter, who was Katelyn Markham’s fiancé when she disappeared in 2011, was arrested...
John Carter, who was Katelyn Markham’s fiancé when she disappeared in 2011, was arrested Wednesday for her murder, the Butler County Prosecutor's Office confirmed to FOX19 NOW.(Butler County Jail)

Carter was allegedly the last person to see Katelyn alive and called 911 to report her disappearance. Listen to the call in the video below.

“I know you’re not supposed to report a missing person before 24 hours, but my fiancé is missing, and I can’t find her anywhere,” he said in the call made more than a decade ago.

He went on to say in the 2011 call to 911 they had been discussing a possible move to Colorado.

“We were planning on going in October, and then we pushed back the date to November,” he told the 911 operator. “We could have pushed the date back a year and it would not have mattered. I didn’t want to make her do anything she didn’t want to do, and she did not feel like she was being forced into anything.”

When asked what he meant by “forced,” Carter said, “just going to Colorado, the marriage, the whole thing. It was entirely up to her.”

Carter also said in his 911 call, “a Sacred Heart Festival is going on right up the street, and there are a lot of questionable people there.”

In 2011, Carter explained that statement to FOX19 NOW, saying, “I don’t think it draws shady, sketchy people, but there were so many people there you don’t know everybody’s intentions there.”

Private investigator J. Ryan Green, who worked Katelyn’s case for years, says when he interviewed Carter, his timeline did not match up with phone records.

“A lot of people saw this coming over the years,” Green explains. “We were just wanting to know when it was gonna happen. From that point, getting to her house, looking for her, calling certain people, calling her dad, yelling, screaming, ‘Katelyn’s missing,’ I broke those records down, and what he was telling me didn’t match what the record showed.”

Green pointed specifically to phone records.

“The phone records prove that he was lying or that he was just not remembering,” Green explained.

Katelyn’s father Dave thinks Carter’s arrest could mean he and Katelyn’s sister, Ally, may finally see justice.

“I appreciate and love everybody who has taken Katelyn into their heart and followed her story and kept her alive,” said Dave. “I think now, soon, I hope she can rest, rest in peace.”

Carter’s mother released a statement to FOX19 NOW saying, “I have nothing that I really want to say except John is definitely not guilty.”

Prosecutors are not revealing many details about what led to Carter’s arrest to protect the investigation.

Carter is the second person arrested in the investigation.

The Butler County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the arrest of Jonathan Palmerton on Feb. 22 for one count of perjury for allegedly lying to investigators. A judge set his bond at $50,000 just days after he was arrested.

[FOX19′s Crime Vault: Who killed Katelyn Markham?]

Sometime before Palmerton’s arrest, investigators executed two search warrants on separate properties, the prosecutor confirmed.

One property is where Palmerton lived in 2011, a house on Ann Court in Fairfield. The other property is where Carter previously lived.

“A lot of times in these cases, you’ll see small changes, and then they get bigger and bigger and bigger... and then boom! You’ve got a murder charge on somebody,” private investigator J. Ryan Green said. “Now, I’m not saying that Jon Palmerton murdered Katelyn Markham. But did he lie about something he knew about somebody else? Did he lie about something that occurred? And then he admitted that ‘Yeah, I lied about it?’”

Green also claims Palmerton has connections to Michael Strouse. He provided a photo showing the two together at a festival.

Strouse, a convicted killer in another case, popped up on investigators’ radar in 2018. He allegedly shares mutual friends with Carter and allegedly confessed to a fellow inmate that he killed a second woman named Shelly and left her body by a creek.

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.

You can learn more about this case by listening to the Cincinnati Crime Vault podcast and can also watch on the FOX19 streaming app.

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