What Happened to an Ohio Woman Found Dead in Indiana?
Fairfield Police, Indiana State Police, and Frank Smith, a private investigator at Ohio Polygraph & Associates and a retired Butler County Sheriff’s detective are all on the hunt for answers, but all have so far come up short. This year, Florida private investigator J. Ryan Green joined the investigation after being hired by an anonymous party who has been following the case via social media.
Nearly 4 years ago, 22-year-old Art Institute of Cincinnati student Katelyn Markham vanished from her Fairfield, Ohio home. She was just one semester from graduating. After which, she planned to move to Colorado with her fiancé, John Carter with whom she had been in a relationship for 6 years.
John was working as a Papa John’s pizza delivery driver and Katelyn worked at David’s Bridal. She finished her shift at 8 p.m. and John stated that they spent time together and he left around midnight. The neighbors noticed an unfamiliar box-like car pulling into the community parking area around 1 a.m. and leaving just seconds later.
After leaving Katelyn’s condo, John met up with friends. The last ping from her cell phone was around 1 a.m. when she sent her fiancé a text. The police assume she turned off her phone for the night.
Katelyn was scheduled to go to work the next morning at 11 a.m. She never showed. John told police he tried to get ahold of her all day without luck. He left work early to stop by her house at around 7 p.m. He said he immediately knew something was off when he saw her car in the parking area. She was supposed to be at work. He entered the home, but didn’t notice if the door was unlocked. Katelyn was gone. Everything was the way it was supposed to be except for her cell phone, which was missing. John called 911 and reported his fiance missing.
There was no activity on Katelyn’s cell phone, credit cards, or bank accounts.
She was found deceased 2 years later in Indiana about 25 miles from her home. It appeared as though someone tried to conceal her remains using trash.
Green said that he believes the initial investigators missed their opportunity to advance the case and that’s why it went cold. Earlier this year, Katelyn’s father, David Markham, requested that a new investigator be placed on the case.
“At this point, we need a new set of eyes,” Markham said, “It is just so frustrating, and I am beyond frustrated; I am angry.”
Markham said that the police department seems to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results.
Green said he contacted the Fairfield detective assigned to the case before interviewing two people he believes may have information, “I told her if one of them failed the test, she could come interview them right then…” He said the detective responded via text in a positive manner, but the bottom line is the detective never showed when Green contacted her.
Fairfield Police Chief Mike Dickey said there will be no change in detectives assigned to the Markham case. He agreed that the people Green has pointed to as having information need to be talked to.
“We are aware of that information on the individuals, and based on their conversations, do not want to talk to police or anyone,” Dickey said, “They had a bad experience with [Green].”
Green said he believes the police aren’t “aggressive” enough. Dickey went on to say the reason why the lead investigator on the case couldn’t go interview the people Green suspects is because he didn’t make an appointment ahead of time for her to join him. Instead, he called her when he was about to start his own interviews.
“She was in the middle of work on critical matter at that time,” Dickey said, “It wasn’t possible for her to get there at the instant.”
Green said he has been able to touch base with Katelyn’s inner circle when she went missing in the summer of 2011. Green said, he doesn’t believe her death was intentional, “People panicked and she was dumped.”
Markham said he also believes his daughter’s death was probably accidental.
“I think it may have been an accident, a mistake. Something went wrong. It was an accident or a crime of passion.”
Over the years, rumors and theories have run rampant in the case spreading across social media. Some people suspect she overdosed, others point fingers at her friends or her fiancé.
The facts are: Katelyn went missing from her residence during the early morning hours of August 14, 2011. Police and volunteers looked for months near her Dorshire Drive home, but she had vanished without a trace. She left behind her purse, car, keys, and her dog. The case gained national media attention, but did nothing to help solve it.
On April 7, 2013, nearly two years later, Katelyn’s remains were discovered in Indiana. Her exact cause of death could not be determined. Detective Vance Patton of the Indiana State Police said that 95% of Katelyn’s remains have been recovered, but there is no indication of how or where she died. There was no sign of a struggle at her home either.
“We are 99 percent sure she died or was killed in Ohio,” Patton said. He said that they couldn’t rule any theory out at this time.
Markham said that his daughter was an occasional marijuana user, but nothing else, even alcohol. He went on to say that Green is also hearing that it may have been a drug overdose, but “you just don’t go from marijuana occasionally to heroin.”
Smith, a private investigator with a history of closing cold cases, was hired by Markham to investigate his daughter’s case about 16 months ago. During the investigation, Smith has conducted hundreds of interviews. He has met with Fairfield police, Indiana State Police, and even with Green.
Smith said he doesn’t believe any of the accidental theories, he believes it was a homicide. Smith refused to talk specifics in order to protect the integrity of his investigation. Smith runs his own private detective business with his wife and daughter. His daughter, Sarah Schwartz, is a certified deception analyst with Homeland Security. His wife does background investigations. Smith no longer works for Markham, but he still investigates the case.
“Investigators get tunnel vision,” said Frank. “They hone in one suspect… that’s a fatal mistake.”
He said he believes that is what has happened in the Markham case. Frank Smith hopes to move Katelyn’s picture to the office wall of closed cases, which include portraits of cases he’s cracked including arresting a serial killer.
Patton of the ISP said that he doesn’t believe it is necessary to assign a new investigator to the case. The detective assigned has “all the background and knowledge” necessary. He also said that the Fairfield police have done a “great job” and that there are at least 8 binders of investigative information on the case. Patton also said that in fighting doesn’t solve cases, “I understand where Dave [Markham] is coming from. And I feel sorry that he doesn’t have the closure he needs. But sometimes, it takes time.”
The Butler County Sheriff’s Office where Smith used to work has a bit of a strained relationship with the Fairfield police department given that they aided in the investigation of the Chelsea Johnson case and failed to get an indictment against the main suspect. “This is our case and we are sticking until we get a conclusion,” we don’t need additional input from outside police agencies, Dickey said.
Markham said he won’t let up the pressure to get a fresh set of eyes on the case.
“The current team and method is not working,” Markham said.
If you have any information please contact TriState Crime Stoppers at 513-352-3040 or (1-888) 352-3040 or click here to Submit a Tip.
Or contact the Fairfield Police Department at (513) 829-8201.