FAIRFIELD, Ohio – Over two years after her disappearance, Katelyn Markham's family and friends finally had a chance to say goodbye.
Markham's funeral was held Sunday at Fairfield Senior High School. The family chose that location because they expected a large turn out for the memorial of the young woman who disappeared from her Fairfield residence in August 2011.
Markham’s casket stood high on the stage in the school’s auditorium where the visitation and funeral were held. Next to the casket were samples of the artwork she had created. She loved art.
Her art was such an important part of her life that family and friends wore bright colored clothing to the service, stating Katelyn was a bright and colorful young woman. They said it would be the best way to honor her.
The room was full of bright colors and somber expressions worn by family members and friends who knew and loved the 21-year-old.
Among those in attendance was Markham’s former fiancé, John Carter, who spoke in front of the crowd. He recounted during the service the times he shared with the woman he called the love of his life.
"We would've had our kiss, we would've had our marriage, we would've had our honeymoon, we would've had our kid, we would've had our life and we would've grown old together," he said.
Even though it wasn’t official, Markham was part of the Carter family, according to John Carter’s cousin, Gabrielle Keller. Keller said she felt lucky to have Markham in her life.
"Whenever I think of her I think of that smile,” Keller said, adding that it was impossible not to like Markham. “She meant well to everybody. Everybody was a friend."
Some of those "friends” were people who never even met Markham. Her disappearance and the subsequent outpouring of support to her family caused people such as Diane Smith to feel as though Markham was a part of her life.
"Just by going through pictures and art, you felt like you knew her and the type of person she was," she said.
Smith was one of the thousands of people across the Tri-State who dedicated time, energy and resources to look for Markham over the past two years.
But it wasn't until April 7 when an Indiana man looking for scrap metal stumbled upon Markham's remains while rummaging through a dumpsite along Big Cedar Creek, off U.S. Route 52, roughly 25 miles from her home.
While finding the remains brought some closure to the Markham family, Texas EquuSearch leader Dave Rader said more needs to be done for them.
Yes, he was happy for Markham's friends and family because they finally had a formal chance to say goodbye. But he called Sunday's event bittersweet because the investigation into her disappearance is still ongoing.
On Aug. 13 of this year, the Franklin County Indiana Coroner officially ruled Markham's death a homicide and released her remains to her family.
Finding the person responsible for her death is the only way Markham's family and friends will have true closure, Rader said.
"We're 2/3 the way there. All we need to do now is find the person who did this to her and find the closure the family needs," Rader said.
The Indiana State Police, in conjunction with Fairfield police, continues to ask anyone with information on Katelyn's death to contact them at 812-689-5000, or the Fairfield Police Department at 513-867-6094. You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 888-352-3040.
9 On Your Side reporter Amy Wadas contributed to this report.