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Man arrested in connection to one of the Tri-State's biggest cold cases has bond set at $50,000

Katelyn Markham went missing in 2011, and her remains were found in 2013
Jonathan Palmerton
Katelyn Markham
Posted at 7:21 PM, Feb 17, 2023

FAIRFIELD, Ohio — The man arrested in connection to one of the Tri-State's biggest cold cases had his bond set at $50,000 in a Butler County courtroom Wednesday.

Jonathan Palmerton, 35, has been charged with perjury in connection to the investigation into Katelyn Markham's disappearance and death, Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said Friday.

While Palmerton has been charged with perjury, it is unclear if Butler County Prosecutors believe he's a person of interest in Markham's death. He is currently being held at the Butler County Jail. If he posts bond, he will be required to report to pre-trail services weekly and wear a GPS monitor. He's also not allowed to leave Butler County.

Markham’s father said Palmerton's arrest makes him hopeful, but he remains guarded as the case progresses.

"The times that something seems like it's going to happen, my heart just would soar and then it would just be crushed," said Dave Markham. "Each one of those events just got more, more hurtful and more, you know, it was painful, so I just kind of had to distance myself from that."

He said the indictment was a great start.

"It's the most concrete thing we've had," he said. "But I still have to just take it one day at a time."

"This is not the beginning of the end," Gmoser said. "This is the end of the beginning."

Gmoser said Palmerton was arrested Friday after deputies searched a home that Palmerton was associated with. Officials also searched a property associated with John Carter, who is believed to have been Markham's partner at the time of her disappearance. Gmoser said Carter has not been charged with any crime.

J. Ryan Green, a private investigator who worked on the case, said Palmerton was a friend of Carter’s. Green spoke to Palmerton several times after Markham’s disappearance.

"One of the least intimidating figures that I've encountered in this timeframe where I was investigating the Markham case probably would have been John Palmerton," he said.

After speaking in person and on the phone, Green said he set up a polygraph examination for Palmerton.

"He said he would come to it," Green said, "but then when the time came, he ghosted me. He was nowhere to be found and he wouldn’t answer his phone."

Green said that made him suspicious.

"I was more suspicious that maybe he knew something that happened, instead of 'he killed her' type thing," Green said. "Maybe someone had informed him of something that happened."

Palmerton’s attorney said Palmerton has no criminal history.

"The state's had approximately 12 years of investigation going on," said Palmerton’s attorney Ken Crehan. "Mr. Palmerton was interviewed voluntarily day one of this investigation 12 years ago. He's always cooperated in the state and he's stayed in the Butler County area."

Gmoser also said the case took investigators to New Orleans, but he did not specify in what way. He also did not release any other information regarding Markham's case.

This is the first arrest in connection to Markham's 2011 disappearance.

Markham, who was 21 at the time she went missing, vanished in August 2011. Hundreds joined searches for the Fairfield woman before her skeletal remains were found in April 2013 in a black garbage bag in a wooded area of Cedar Grove, Indiana, which is roughly 30 miles from Fairfield.

The coroner ruled Markham's death a homicide but never could determine the exact cause of death.

The Fairfield woman's case has been handled by multiple jurisdictions, and documentaries were made to keep Markham's case alive. In 2016, the Butler County Sheriff's Office said they had a strong person of interest in her case, as well as another Fairfield cold case, but no arrests were ever made.

Dave Markham said he’s thankful for the support he’s received as the investigation continues.

"Katelyn touched a lot of lives and even people who have never met her are following this case," he said. "I'm very grateful to everybody who's been out there, who supported me. ... There is an end somewhere. Hopefully, this is the event that starts it off."

Palmerton will be back in court on March 30.

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