Case of John Carter, accused of killing Katelyn Markham, again not called in court

Fairfield woman’s mysterious death is nationally known case; she was killed in 2011.

BUTLER COUNTY — The prosecution and defense in the John Carter murder case met in judges chambers Tuesday, Nov. 28, setting deadlines and a new hearing date, but again the case of the man accused of killing Fairfield’s Katelyn Markham in 2011 was not called in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

Carter, who is free on $1 million bond, was scheduled for a status report hearing before Judge Dan Haughey, but the hearing was continued until Jan. 16 with motions to be filed by Jan. 5.

There have been three previous hearing continuances and Carter has not been in court since April. But he apparently was in the vicinity of the courthouse Tuesday ready to appear if the case was called, because his signature is on the pretrial entry form.

It appeared the prosecution believed the Tuesday hearing would happen — and so did Katelyn’s father, Dave Markham, who was in the hallway ready to go into the courtroom at 1 p.m. for the scheduled hearing. Markham expressed frustration at another continuance.

A copy of the new scheduling order was passed out to media also waiting to go into court.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said he insisted on a deadline for motions to be filed by the defense team. As of Tuesday at noon, they had filed nothing.

The prosecution has turned over three rounds of discovery containing hundreds of items, photos, statements and evidence collected in years of investigation.

“I wanted to establish a motion deadline for the defense for any evidence they want to suppress,” Gmoser said.

If those defense motions call into question multiple search warrants served in the case, another judge will need to be appointed for those hearings, because Haughey signed the search warrants, according to Gmoser.

“He (Haughey) had to make a legal determination of the sufficiency (in the search warrants) so that would put him at odds for being fair and impartial with respect to that issue. He is still on the case, but can’t hear that issue,” Gmoser said.

Carter’s trial is set to begin June 24, 2024.

A motion for a lengthy jury view was also filed by the prosecution last month, spanning Butler County to Indiana, where Markham’s body was found. Haughey has not ruled on that motion.

Prosecutors want the jury to go to Carter’s home at the time of the alleged offense on West Scioto Drive in Fairfield, Markham’s townhouse on Dorshire Drive in Fairfield, the location where Markham’s body was recovered on South Big Cedar Road in Franklin County Indiana and the Carter family farm on Kokomo Hill Road in Franklin County, Ind.

Gmoser acknowledged the jury view is “extensive” and could take a day out of the trial, but he said it is necessary.

Carter is charged under two sections of the murder statute, according to the indictment: The first for allegedly purposely causing the death of Markham and the second for allegedly causing her death as “the proximate result of the offender’s committing or attempting to commit an offense of violence ...”

Markham, a free-spirited art student, was just days away from her 22nd birthday when she vanished in August 2011 from her Fairfield townhouse. Her skeletal remains were found April 7, 2013, in a remote wooded area in Indiana about 30 miles from her home. Her death was ruled a homicide, but the cause of death has not been determined.

It remained unsolved until March 2023 when an 18-month investigation by the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office resulted in Carter’s arrest.

The “bill of particulars” filed by the prosecution last month involve Carter’s changing statements about scratches on his face and the determination from Markham’s remains that she had sharp force trauma to her left wrist.

Specifically, the bill of particulars states: “During the late hours of Aug. 13, 2011, through the early morning hours of Aug. 14, 2011, starting in the area of 5214 Dorshire Drive in the city of Fairfield, Butler County, Ohio, John Carter by physical violence and by force did cause the death of Katelyn Markham.”

The bill continues with: “Around 8 p.m. on Aug. 14, 2011, the Fairfield Police responded to the report of a missing person and saw multiple scratches on John Carter’s neck. When John Carter was confronted about the scratch marks he told officers that they came from shaving with his electric razor attachment. Later John Carter said he scratched himself on the neck and then said he doesn’t know how the scratches happened. On April 7, 2013, the remains of Katelyn Markham were discovered with incised wounds from sharp force trauma to the left wrist area.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Markham’s death has been ruled a homicide by an Indiana coroner based on the totality of circumstances surrounding her disappearance and how her remains were found. But a cause of death could not be determined.

What happened to Markham and how she died has remained a mystery for years, despite a $100,000 reward and the efforts of multiple police agencies, private detectives, television shows and a movie.

Indiana State Police and at least two private detectives also investigated the case with no arrests — just lots of theories.

Markham’s disappearance was treated as a missing person case by Fairfield police when she vanished from her Dorshire Drive residence. She did not show up for work at David’s Bridal near Tri-County Mall.

Carter called 911 to report her missing.

Markham left her car, keys, dog and all personal belongings, with the exception of her cell phone, at her townhouse. Her cell phone was turned off at about 12:45 a.m. on Aug. 14, 2011. The GPS device on her phone also was turned off.

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