Katelyn Markham: Unsealed search warrant reveals how prosecutors came to charge her fiancé with murder

A search warrant and supporting court records unsealed Tuesday detail how Butler County prosecutors resurrected the Katelyn Markham murder case.
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 1:30 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 25, 2023 at 7:34 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A search warrant and supporting court records unsealed Tuesday detail how Butler County prosecutors resurrected the Katelyn Markham murder case and came to charge her fiancé with her slaying more than a decade after she vanished.

Katelyn’s father, Dave Markham, tells FOX19 NOW he planned to meet with prosecutors Tuesday afternoon as soon as the new evidence was released.

Katelyn’s father has said he was not surprised John Carter was arrested on March 22 and suspected him all along.

Here are some key takeaways from an investigator’s affidavit used to get a warrant to search Carter’s homes including his residence when she died:

  • Katelyn’s body was found wrapped in black or dark-colored plastic construction and landscaping sheeting material. Authorities believed Carter obtained that material at one of his homes. A roll “of landscaping material” from a “shed” at his mother and step-father’s home on West Scioto Drive in Fairfield is listed on the search warrant inventory list at that location.
  • Fairfield police saw and photographed several red vertical scratch marks on the left side of Carter’s neck on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011.
  • Carter gave two versions of how the scratches got there. He first blamed them on an electric razor he used “although in a later interview, John Carter indicated that he was not sure how the scratches got there,” wrote the investigator, Paul Newton.
  • One of Katelyn’s friends told Fairfield police in 2011 he saw Katelyn at her townhouse the night of Aug. 13, 2011. He said he, Katelyn and Carter smoked marijuana and discussed the couple’s plan to move to Colorado within the next few months. He “stated Katelyn appeared to be working on school work on her laptop, and that she never moved from her spot on the sofa “the whole time” he was there. The witness told police Katelyn seemed “distant” and not her “typically bubbly self.”
  • The man said he left her townhouse around 10:45 p.m. that night to attend a party in Liberty Township. When he left, Katelyn and Carter were the only ones there and “Carter admitted the same. Katelyn’s friend told police he “never saw Katelyn again.”
  • The man“did not recall seeing scratch marks on John Carter’s neck” that night.
  • This witness took a polygraph exam at a sheriff’s office in Florida on Jan. 9, 2021. “That exam indicated (he) gave truthful responses when he denied knowledge of or involvement in the disappearance and death of Katelyn Markham,” the investigator wrote.
  • “Carter gave deceptive responses when he denied knowledge of or involvement in the disappearance and death of Katelyn Markam” in three separate polygraphs.
  • Both his cell phone and Katelyn’s went dark at about the same time on the night of Aug. 13, 2011. Fairfield police records show their subpoena for Katelyn’s cell phone records indicates texts were sent between the phones around 11:04 p.m. A picture from Katelyn’s cell phone was sent to his phone. Additional texts between both phones continued until 11:36 p.m. that night.
  • Cell phone records indicate Katelyn’s cell phone “went dark” meaning it was either turned off, the battery went dead, or the SIM card was removed, on or about 12:06 a.m. on Aug. 14, 2011.
  • An agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation discovered “numerous text messages” between John Carter and Katelyn Markham between 7:53 p.m. and 11:36 p.m. on Aug. 13, 2011, were deleted from John Carter’s cell phone.
  • Katelyn’s cell phone has never been located. Carter told Fairfield police he went through her purse the next day when he went to her townhouse to check on her after not hearing from her all day. He said he retrieved her car keys to see if he could find the phone in her vehicle but was unable to find it.
  • On Aug. 27, 2011, Carter “denied to police that he deleted Katelyn’s Aug. 13 messages from his phone. However, Carter subsequently admitted to police that he had in fact deleted those messages from Katelyn ‘accidentally’ while trying to make space for the numerous text messages he was receiving in reference to Katelyn’s disappearance.”
  • Carter told investigators he sent Katelyn a “good morning” text around 4 a.m. on Aug.14, 2011 “but there is no record of that message ever being sent.”

Read the new court records for yourself here:

A Butler County grand jury secretly indicted John Carter on two murder charges back on March 13.

The 34-year-old was taken into custody just over a week later as he taught women a glass-blowing class at Neusole Glassworks in Forest Park, where he worked for years, according to Forest Park Police and the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office.

Neusole Glassworks has since announced they fired Carter.

Judge Daniel Haughey ordered his secret indictment unsealed the day after his arrest.

The indictment charges Carter with murder by “purposely” causing Katelyn’s death on or about Aug. 13, 2011, through Aug. 14, 2011, in Butler County.

The second murder count alleges he caused her death on the same dates “as a proximate result” of committing or attempting to commit a violent felony offense (felonious assault).

Katelyn was last seen at her Fairfield apartment on Aug. 13, 2011, Fairfield police said at the time.

Fairfield police also said Carter was 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.”

He mentioned a Sacred Heart Festival was happening right up the street “and there are a lot of questionable people there.”

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

Katelyn’s remains were found nearly two years later, on April 7, 2013, in a rural, wooded area at Big Cedar Creek in southeastern Indiana’s Cedar Grove. A couple looking for scrap metal spotted a human jaw.

Her death was ruled a homicide, but her cause of death has never been established.

Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser revealed some of the evidence in the case during Carter’s recent bond hearing.

“The case is really strong. We really have a great case,” he told the judge back on March 27.

He announced in open court as Judge Haughey considered Carter’s bond amount that a forensic anthropologist determined Katelyn’s left wrist showed three or four sharp force wounds.

The expert also said where her remains were found is probably not the first place her body was placed.

Gmoser then read writings he said were recently found when they searched Carter’s mother’s home, which is where he was living when Katelyn was killed.

The writings were found in a binder. Some had his name on them, Gmoser told the judge, adding that they are not dated but do show the “conflict and demon within” between Carter himself.

“Deep down, I love her. You ought 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’m just that good. But you’re bad. I know. How do I kill you? You can’t. You’re right. About what? Nothing.”

“I slit your wrists with the key to your heart.”

Judge Haughey set Carter’s bond at $1 million which has since been posted, court records show.

His case returns to court for a pretrial conference on July 11. His jury trial is set for June 2024.

Carter has pleaded not guilty.

His mother released a statement after her son’s arrest declaring he is “definitely not guilty.”

He was the second person arrested in this investigation.

Jonathan Palmerton, 35, of Fairfield was arrested on a perjury charge in February. He’s accused of lying to investigators, according to his indictment.

He is out on a $50,000 bond.

Palmerton is due in court next for a pretrial hearing on May 11. His trial is set for Aug. 11.

John Carter (right) was allegedly the last person to see Katelyn Markham (left) alive and...
John Carter (right) was allegedly the last person to see Katelyn Markham (left) alive and called 911 to report her disappearance.(WXIX)

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