FOREST PARK, Ohio – A private investigator says the processing of new evidence could lead to an arrest in the 4-year-old Katelyn Markham homicide.
"There will be an arrest if [the test result] comes back favorably," Florida investigator J. Ryan Green said confidently at a news conference with the slain woman's father, David Markham, Friday afternoon.
The new evidence is giving Katelyn's father renewed hope that her killer will be found, but he's angry at what he sees as foot-dragging and short-cutting by Fairfield police.
Markham said he asked Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones to take over the investigation, but Jones said he would partner with the city police and not take over.
"I'm not a police officer or detective. I'm a father of a murdered child," Markham said, trying to hold back tears. "I had faith that everything that needed to be done was going to be done. I now know that was not the case."
Green and Markham refused to say what the new evidence is, but Green said he asked Fairfield police four times to process it and they made "a conscious decision" not do to it.
Green said he had to "track down and purchase" the evidence himself and that it had changed hands, which could mean it was in a car or a item that belonged to Katelyn.
Green said he learned about the evidence two years ago. "That's the frustration, " Markham said. "Why two years, why four years, why was this not done Day 1?"
Green said there's a "possibility" that DNA can be taken from it," but he noted that the change in weather here "messes with" DNA.
"Can they get a sample from it? I don't know, but we're optimistic," he said.
Katelyn, a 21-year-old art student and 2008 Fairfield High grad, disappeared from her Fairfield apartment on Aug. 13, 2011. Twenty months later, her skeletal remains were found at a dumpsite in a wooded area in rural Cedar Grove, Indiana, on April 7, 2013. The coroner there ruled her death a homicide, but she said she could not determine the exact cause of death.
Indiana State Police joined the investigation at that point, but Fairfield held the evidence, Green said. He said he told ISP Det. Vance Patton about the new evidence.
"He drove here two hours from Indiana to process it, but he didn't have jurisdiction in the case," Green said. "Unfortunately, because of jurisdictional boundaries, his hands were tied."
Markham said he asked Fairfield chief Mike Dickey to assign a new detective to the case six months ago but Dickey refused.
Green said a person he interviewed failed a polygraph test, but Fairfield detectives failed to act in a timely manner to interrogate that person.
In contrast, they polygraphed Markham twice, Markham said.
"When I was asked to take a polygraph - twice - [it] was explained that in Investigation 101 you start at the middle and you work your way out. It makes perfect sense. They polygraphed me and stopped"
Four witnesses with Katelyn within a day of her disappearance were never interviewed, Green said.
"There has been very little movement (in the investigation) except what Ryan has accomplished," Markham said. "We need more help. We need someone who's going to take this more serious.
"I'm at a loss here," Markham said, tearing up, his voice breaking at the end of the news conference. "It will be four years later and things will be the same way, we'll be having the same discussion, if we just let it go the way it's going. And I don't want to wait another four years."
Afterward, Fairfield police issued a press release that said:
On December 18, 2015 David Markham held a press conference requesting that the investigation into the murder of Katelyn be handed over to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office. The Fairfield Police Department has been assisted by several agencies during this investigation, all in the effort to bring the individual(s) responsible for Katelyn’s death to justice. We are open to other law enforcement agencies reviewing the investigation. We have spoken with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office and BCI. We will try to arrange a meeting with them in the near future.
Police never publicly identified a suspect in Katelyn's killing. She was last seen alive by her fiance, John Carter, who reported her missing the next day. When Markham vanished, she left her purse, keys and dog in her apartment. There was no sign of a struggle.
Police and volunteers looked for months to find her. A Cedar Grove resident found her remains while rummaging through garbage bags at the dumpsite. Patton said that 95 percent of Katelyn’s body was recovered.
The Journal-News contributed to this story.