CINCINNATI: Authorities turned their focus Thursday to investigating the cause of death for a southwest Ohio woman whose skeletal remains were found in Indiana 20 months after she went missing.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Noel Houze said police in the two states want to hear from anyone who has information about 21-year-old Katelyn Markham.
“Somebody out there knows what happened,” Houze said Thursday. Indiana police said late Wednesday that remains found Sunday along a creek had been identified as those of Markham, reported missing to Fairfield, Ohio, police on Aug. 14, 2011. He said foul play is suspected, but police and coroner’s investigations will be needed to determine cause of death.
“We don’t know that for sure, either,” Houze said.
Fairfield Police Chief Michael Dickey, whose investigators have pursued numerous leads in the case, said Thursday that Indiana State Police is the lead agency in the investigation, and he declined to discuss details of next steps in the probe. The Hamilton County coroner’s office in Cincinnati made the identification of the remains, but also referred questions to Indiana authorities.
“We were all concerned that she would never been found, and this will allow us to proceed with the next phase of the investigation,” Dickey said. “I’m sure the family is devastated, but it does answer the question.”
Her father, David Markham, was stunned by the discovery.
“I’m doing as well as can be, and I appreciate the love and support,” Markham told WLWT-TV of Cincinnati. “I just need time right now with my other daughter Ally.”
Her fiance, John Carter, wasn’t available for comment Thursday, but his stepfather said the news had hit Carter hard.
“Pretty much crushing at this point,” said Steve Winkler. “Everything is fresh again, just waves of emotion. He’s doing the best he can.”
The northern Cincinnati suburb where Markham lived is some 25 miles east of where the remains were found along Big Cedar Creek, near Cedar Grove in southern Franklin County. Houze said the area is a place where people sometime dump trash, and that people looking for scrap metal found the remains and called police.
The case had brought out hundreds of volunteers to help police and professional search teams scour nearby woods, waterways and rural areas, and was featured on national television shows. The only item gone with her was her cellphone, which apparently was turned off shortly after she went missing. Her dog was locked in a bedroom, and her car and purse were left behind in her town house just off a busy street in Fairfield.
“I never expected this day to come. It’s all so surreal,” said neighbor Donna Messano Metz, who had searched for her repeatedly. “It’s awful.”
She said she had searched as recently as a month ago, and that an earlier search had taken volunteers to within a few miles of where the remains were found.
The case had stunned a community of 43,000 residents where violent crime is rare. There were vigils, fundraising events for search costs and billboards, and fliers with her image were in businesses around southwest Ohio. Numerous tributes and condolences were posted, after the news of the remains circulated on a Facebook page called “Missing! Bring Katelyn Markham Home.”
She was last seen by her fiance late Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011. He said she then sent him a text message not long after he left her home. Carter called police that Sunday evening. He said that she hadn’t responded to text messages, and that he became alarmed when he went to her home to find her car and nearly all her belongings still there.
She was only weeks away from earning her bachelor’s degree from an art college. She and Carter had known each other for years and had said they planned to move to Colorado and get married later.
Carter and her father said repeatedly that that it would be out of character for her to leave town without contacting anyone. She worked two jobs besides doing art work, and police concluded that she was a hard-working, wholesome young woman who appeared to have been a victim of foul play. However, they had said they didn’t have any evidence to prove that a crime had been committed.
Officials are asking anyone with information to contact the Indiana State Police or Fairfield police.
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