CEDAR GROVE, Ind. - Andy Hicks, the man who found Katelyn Markham’s remains, told 9 On Your Side‘s Jay Warren he’s having trouble sleeping after his gruesome discovery, but he’s grateful he was able to bring some closure to Markham's family.
Hicks said he was looking for scrap metal Sunday morning when he started rummaging through a dump site along Big Cedar Creek, off U.S. 52. He said he pushed aside a black plastic bag and that uncovered her jawbone. When he opened the bag, he found her skull.
Hicks showed Warren on Thursday where he found the remains.
"I picked up (the jawbone) and said, ‘That's no animal,’ and I hung it in a tree and went and called the cops,” Hicks said.
Hicks said authorities were skeptical at first.
“They sent us to the (Department of Natural Resources). The DNR said, ‘What makes you so sure it’s a human jawbone?’ I said, ‘Well, it's got all its teeth and it’s shaped just like mine.’
"I'm sorry she had to be found this way, but I’m happy (her family) knows where she is now," Hicks said. "I hope they figure out what happened and get complete closure because I know this is only partial closure."
On Wednesday, Indiana State Police Wednesday identified the skeletal remains Hicks found as Markham's, ending a 20-month search for the missing Fairfield woman.
The remains were originally taken to the Hamilton County Coroner’s office for DNA and other forensic testing, where officials used dental records to identify the remains, Fairfield Police Chief Michael Dickey confirmed to WCPO Digital.
“We were coming to the conclusion that her [remains] would never be found,” Dickey said Thursday. “We are proceeding carefully with the investigation."
Fairfield investigators are working jointly with the Indiana State Police on the death investigation. Authorities have not determined the cause of death.
Friends, family and concerned people across the country have been providing prayers, clues and support for the family since the then-21-year-old went missing in August 2011. The Facebook page, "Missing! Bring Katelyn Markham Home," has been a hub of information for those associated with the search.
The administrators of the page wrote the following message at 8:38 p.m. Wednesday evening:
"The admins here have no idea what to say. We are all in shock and unbelievably upset beyond words. We will try to respond to people when we feel that we can. Thank you."
A picture of Markham with the words "Rest in peace, beautiful" has also been posted on the page.
Facebook user "Samantha Wibbels" left the following comment on one of the posts on the page:
"Thank you for keeping Katelyn's name in everyones minds. I never had the pleasure of knowing her but knowing how much you all loved her was enough. God bless you and all her family and friends."
The page has more than 5,000 followers.
A memorial outside of Katelyn Markham's home.
"I don't think you can prepare yourself for that (the news of Markham's death)," Snyder said.
Karen Winkler, mother of Markham’s fiancé, “had a rough night” and was not available to comment Thursday, said the person who answered her phone.
“We’re still trying to deal with this today so we’re not talking to very many people,” that person said.
State police were called to a scene near Big Cedar Road on Sunday, April 7 after Hicks notified authorities he had found skeletal remains in the area. Speculation that the remains were Markham began to surface Tuesday.
Spot where Markham's remains were found
Markham was last seen by her fiancé, John Carter. He reported her missing on August 14, 2011 when she did not show up at work. He found her car, purse and keys still at her townhome on Dorshire Drive.
Carter is not a suspect or a person of interest at this point, Chief Dickey said Friday.
Hundreds of people volunteered their services to look for Markham over the past two years.
One of those people is Dave Rader, who works with the national search organization Texas EquuSearch.
“You always have that glimmer of hope that with all the people that were searching we didn't find her, that gave you the hope that she just needed to clear her head, and one day she was going to walk back through that door," he said.
Volunteers spent days searching for Markham in the woods in and around her Fairfield home.
In the end, her body was found 30 miles from Fairfield near the rural town of Cedar Grove, Ind.
“It’s very difficult," Rader said. "I don’t have kids, but when you spend this much time passionately helping a family try to find their missing loved one, it’s painful when it ends this way and it takes a while to get over it."
Anyone with information regarding her death is urged to call Indiana State Police at 812-689-5000, Fairfield police at 513-867-6094 or Crime Stoppers at 888-352-3040 or 513-352-3040.
Leave your condolences and see the community's outreach in remembering Katelyn at http://goo.gl/gB2le.
Read a full timeline of Markham's disappearance at http://goo.gl/gNhVv.
Below is a YouTube video posted August 19, 2011, just five days after Markham went missing (tablet and mobile users can view the video by going to the following link: http://ow.ly/jX1Zg) :