Katelyn Markham went missing, and was later found dead. No arrests have been made. This is the 911 call from John Carter, who was engaged to her at the time of the call.
I am sometimes asked what a written report looks like as analysis on the blog is short, superficial, and intended to catch the attention of the investigators, journalists, therapists, as well as the general public. Depending upon the case, it is generally in two parts:
- The Analysis and Conclusion
- Profile and Interview Strategy and Tactical Questions
Although this is not a complete report, it is a more detailed analysis of the 911 call made when Katelyn Markham went missing. There is no inclusion of Part II.
Katelyn Markham Case: 911 Call from John Carter.
Introduction: In research of 911 calls, Statement Analysis recognizes patterns of speech within the context of the emergency that prompted the call. This is to highlight ‘the allegation’ or emergency stated’ (alleging here that one is missing) and the expected language that will be employed to facilitate the flow of information to find the victim and bring positive resolution to the call.
There is, according to the reason for the call, an expectation of wording. For example, when a person is missing, it is expected that the call is urgent and concern will be expressed for the missing person. The caller cares not for himself, or how he may appear, because his sole focus is finding the missing person.
There is also wording that is “unexpected”, and statistically, ‘red flagged’ for the possible conclusion that the caller has guilty knowledge of the crime. These are often elements of sense.
- Emergency 911 calls that begin with a greeting are flagged. In an emergency, the caller is expected to go right to what is on his mind. Calls that begin with “hello” or “hi” are more associated with guilty knowledge than with innocence, statistically, and the obvious psychological element is the urgency of the call precludes any greeting. Greetings are polite, and can even be an attempt to ingratiate oneself to law enforcement, to sound ‘cooperative.’ This need to sound cooperative, itself, is concerning.
- Expression of Emotions. Callers are upset in emergencies and do not need to identify their emotions. Those who have a need to proclaim what emotions they are experiencing may be doing so artificially.
- Ask for help for the victim, and not for self. Guilty callers sometimes ask for help for themselves, revealing an understanding that it is they, themselves, in need of help.
- The words “I’m sorry” statistically are found in callers with guilty knowledge, for whatever reason.
- Order indicates priority. We expect to hear the order reflect the priority of the victim’s life, not the concern over the caller’s state, condition, or life. \
- Overly polite callers. In an emergency, not only do we not expect a greeting, but we do expect an urgency that is reflected in the language. Conversely, we note any attempts on the part of the caller to ‘sound cooperative’ or ‘appear to be on friendly terms’ with law enforcement, as represented by the 911 operator.
- We expect a complete social introduction of the victim, and the caller to not distance himself, for example, from the victim.
- We do not expect to hear any victim blaming, even in a subtle manner.
- We do not expect any question to remain unanswered or diverted.
- We do expect the overall scope of the call to be about Katelyn, her well being, what she may be experiencing, and not about the caller, himself.
- We expect the innocent caller to highlight where they were last together, as a most important and even treasured moment, using the pronoun “we” to describe it, with stark clarity due to the intense emotions of fear of what happened.
The analysis is completed for this purpose: to learn if the caller is an “innocent caller” who has made this phone call to police to help locate the missing victim;
or, if the caller has guilty knowledge of what has happened to the victim, and is working, not to find the victim, but to benefit himself by portraying himself in a positive light, and even the possibility of suggesting ‘other’ suspects for police to investigate.
Question for analyst: “Does John Carter have guilty knowledge of what happened to Katelyn Markham?”
The call began with the 911 operator asking for the location of the emergency.
J: Hi, my name is John Carter, I am calling – I know that you’re not supposed to report a missing person after – before 24 hours, but my fiancée is missing, I can’t find her anywhere.
This first response is important.
- The call began with a greeting. This is a red flag that is noted. Next, let’s view the order of the wording:
- Order indicates priority:
- “Hi” is a greeting
- Caller’s name stated
- He, himself is calling
- He is aware that you’re not supposed to report a missing person after-before 24 hours. This is against “urgency”; as one who is concerned with the welfare of the victim that he is unconcerned with any ‘rules’ to follow. This is an example of one who is ‘overly polite’ in a call that politeness is not expected.
- my fiancée is missing. This is the fifth (5th) item communicated and is the only information about the victim, whereas he has spoken considerably more about himself, including that he is a ‘rule follower’ as a form of persuasion.
This order is important. Before he reports the missing person he has used his name, or referencing himself four (4) times, and the victim, once (1). After reporting the victim missing, he again puts himself into the statement: “I can’t find her anywhere” suggests that he has been searching ‘everywhere.’
There are three elements within this first response that are consistent: The greeting is polite, friendly (and unexpected) and he also wants them to know that he is not a ‘rule breaker’ in that he knows not to call before 24 hours, and he also wants police to think of him as someone who is helpful: “I can’t find her anywhere.”
We have an abundance of information from him, about him, but we do not even have her name.
- Social Introductions. In statement analysis, a social introduction, chosen in less than a microsecond of time by the brain, can reveal the quality of the relationship, and it is to be noted, and then followed in the rest of the statement.
“My fiancée, Katelyn Markham is missing” would have been the first thing many callers would have said, making it (1) the priority and the words, “my fiancée, Katelyn Markham” is a complete social introduction; indicative of a good relationship. It has the three necessary elements: her name, her title (fiancée) and the possessive pronoun “my” as close personal ownership.
The lack of complete social introduction is indicative of a troubled relationship, yet it is interesting to note that when the victim is referenced, it is only in the context of how she relates to him. We now look to see if in how he references Katelyn if it will be naturally close language, or if he will distance himself from her, while she is a victim.
911 Dispatcher: Okay, where’d you see her last?
Consider this question in light of his answer. This question is specifically about the location where he last saw her. Think of what he has offered: He could not find her anywhere and now is asked the last place he saw her. This is a very astute question and one that is critical in the investigation.
J: Um, I saw her at like 12 o’ clock last night. She stays in a house by herself, um, so, she – I’m just, I’m really nervous. Her car’s still there, her purse is still –
The question has been avoided. When one avoids a question, the question itself is sensitive. Remember, people rarely ever lie out right as it does not come from experiential memory and causes internal stress. “Where” did you last see her?
He tells them what time, but not where.
He then went into this deception more fully: he told the operator what she normally does, in the present tense, while avoiding what happened last night when he last saw her. This is a very strong signal that he last saw her someplace other than her house. Deceptive people are counting on us to interpret their words as if he said, “I last saw her at midnight at her house.” He did not say this, but uses the common deceptive technique anticipating that the police will “interpret” him to mean at her house.
Note “um” is a pause to think, indicating sensitivity. Why the need to pause to think? Generally, the brain is on high alert, with hormonal response giving clarity. He was asked the last place he saw her and he felt the need to answer the question appropriately
“She stays” is present tense. This is outside the boundary of the question, “where did you last see her?”
This signifies that John Carter has a reason why he will not tell the police the location of the last time he saw her.
Since he refuses to answer the question and then moved to the present tense tangent (a common form of deception. For example, “Did you use illegal drugs on Wednesday, while on duty?” is answered with the present tense tangent, “I don’t use drugs!” which avoids the direct question because of the internal stress of direct lying.)
Note that “so” is highlighted as very sensitive since it shows a need to explain (“so, since, therefore, because, to…”) Yet, he broke his sentence (self censoring) so we do not know what explanation he was going to give.
“I saw her at like 12′ o’ clock last night” is only slightly weakened by “like”; investigators should focus upon this time period as it is introduced by the subject along with the pronoun “I” and the past tense verb “saw” connecting him to her at this time. This time period is likely very important to the story.
He may be telling the truth about the time, but withholds the location. Because he used her house in a deceptive manner, it is safe to conclude that the last place he saw her was not at her house.
Re-emergence of Self, rather than the Victim’s plight.
Please note the phrase, “I’m just, really nervous”; not just “nervous” but “really” nervous. This is a focus upon the caller himself, not the victim. It is about his emotion, and not about what the missing victim may be going through. Innocent callers focus upon the victim and ask for help, specifically, for the victim, and when someone is missing, a particular and expected portion of the statement will be to wonder or worry what the victim is experiencing at this very moment. Instead, he wants police to know what he, himself, is experiencing.
The focus is upon the caller, not the victim. He is the one who is “really nervous” but she is the one alleged to be missing. Note also the context of being really nervous: it is around midnight and he reports she is alone.
- What does his first answer communicate to the police about Katelyn?
- That he is the priority. He is a good guy, for he follows the rules. He can’t find her is to suggest that he has been looking for her, as a dedicated fiancée would, and that his emotions are something he needs them to know: he is scared or “freaking out” for her.
The focus upon self, even in just this short portion of his initial statement, gives signals of the status of “guilty caller.”
Lastly, “I can’t find her anywhere” is examined. If you could not find your fiancée anywhere, you would be nervous too.
In order to be unable to find a missing adult “anywhere”, the person must, by necessity, search everywhere. He reports that he cannot find her “anywhere”, which is to suggest that she will not be found. She is not found “anywhere.”
Think of who might say this?
Perhaps a parent of a toddler who has search the house, the closets, the yard, and so on, reducing the vicinity to the scope of a toddler.
An adult has a much larger scope.
Since you cannot find her anywhere, does anywhere include various bars that you searched in the area? Since you cannot find her anywhere, where, exactly, did you search that you could not find her?
This statement, in fact, is a statement of pessimism; something that the caller should not yet experience. This pessimism is consistent with “leakage” or the inadvertent release of information telegraphing to the police this message:
“you won’t find her, since, I, the fiancée, have not been able to find her anywhere” even if he has done no searching. It is to discourage police from finding Katelyn. This is his language that he has chosen. Consider the speed of transmission of choosing one’s own words is less than a micro second in time.
If he has not physically searched the area, the malls, the stores, hospitals, and so on, the deceptive nature of the statement is even more pronounced.
In just his first response, we learn that John Carter is working against the 911 operator, and is hindering the flow of information, rather than facilitate it. The priority for John Carter is John Carter, not the victim.
D: Is there an address?
J: Yeah, 5214 Dorshire Drive.
J: Dorshire, yes.
D: Okay. And you’re out there now?
This is a natural question because he has ‘communicated’ that he must have been there and everywhere searching for her because he cannot find her anywhere. This shows the 911 operator listening.
J: Um, I’m heading out there now, I, like, have been trying to get ahold of her and I decided to go by her house to see if she’s okay, and her car’s still there – she would be at work right now with her car. Which is why I’m like really freaking out.
- Note that the question, “you’re there now?” is sensitive to John Carter who needs to avoid saying, “no” (it is a yes or no question) but pauses, with “um”, to give himself time to think of what to say. He avoided the question.
- Note the indication of deception: he can’t find her “anywhere” but now we learn what this means: “I, like, have been trying to get ahold of her” is not to search everywhere as previously stated. He did not say the had been trying, but “like trying”, which is an extra word quickly chosen to further reduce commitment to a task. He has not been searching but only “like trying to get a hold of her.” Getting “a hold of” someone is casual language and not the language of urgency, or of searching. This is to reveal that he not only has withheld the location of where he saw her last, but that his assertion to trying to find her is a deliberate deception intended to cause police to believe something that is not true.
- He continues this casual language. He went from “I can’t find her anywhere” to now just “like” trying to get a hold of her, and now to “go by her house”; not to go to her house nor to search the area. We “go by” someone’s house in a casual, or uninvited manner, as a consequence of convenience; such as being in the area. Instead, the innocent caller would say something firm, “I am going to her house” to search the house, to search the area, to look for possible signs of a break in, and so on. It could be anything that shows urgency and concern. His words show no urgency. He is moving away from his statement of emotional urgency and is being betrayed by his own choice of words. This is to show how difficult outright lying is: we do whatever we can to avoid direct lying by withholding information, but also we reveal ourselves in the words we employ.
- “Decided” is to make a decision. If you were very upset and cannot find your fiancée anywhere, would a decision be necessary to go to her home? This is to say that he considered against going to her home. This lack of commitment is seen here, and in the casual ‘stopping by’ like language he used. This “decision” shows that he did, internally, debate whether or not he should go there, which tells us why he did not answer the question with “no” when posed to him, and needed to pause (“um”) to think of what to say.
- “…to go by her house to see if she was okay…” which tells us that he is only “going by” her house to see if she was “okay.” Now, if one said that he could not find her “anywhere”, would “anywhere” include her house? Here he feels even the need to explain why he decided to go to her house. This is unnecessary information which, to the analysis, is increased in importance. It is as if he anticipated being asked, “Why did you go to her house?” It is to reveal his own fear of being questioned. If he was as concerned as he said, and that he could not find her anywhere, he would feel no need to explain why he would go to her home. Yet, going to her house is something very sensitive to him, and not something he wanted to do, and that he felt a need to explain why.
- “and her car’s still there” indicates his knowledge of the case. He has not yet told us who the victim is, but has spoken of his own emotional estate, and now her car. One may wonder when he saw that her car was still there, since he is just “heading” there now.
- Emotions in a statement.
We carefully note the locations within a statement. It is natural to be frightened, and there is no reason to state this. He has stated being “really nervous”, but then took this heightened emotion and “headed” out to “go by” the victim’s house. This is an incongruent statement of emotion and language; the intended emotion is not matched by the language. Now, he changes from “really nervous” to something else.
“Which is why I’m like really freaking out” is to tell the reason for something; though he has not been asked. He is not “freaking out”, nor is he “really freaking out” but, again, while committing to his own emotional state, he uses the word “like” to reduce commitment. People do not like to lie directly and they especially do not like to lie about their emotions; they do, but they don’t like it. One’s own emotions are important to self, and often protected, so when one is feigning surprise, or feigning shock, the act of feigning the emotion is sometimes seen in the wording. For him, this is the second use of the word “like” (not enough to establish a habit) and it is restricted to what emotions he wishes to express to police.
Please note that it is not the emotions that he is experiencing that we are examining: it is his need to inform the police of his emotions that we are focusing upon.
It is unnecessary inclusion of emotions and he continues to show ‘concern’ for himself, but not for the victim. Not only does he not commit to the emotion of “freaking out” (panic, anxiety, etc) with the word “like”, but he also feels the need to explain why he has this emotion, as if not finding her “anywhere” was not enough to freak anyone out. He feels the need, during this very short emergency call about Katelyn, to justify his own emotions; that is, to explain to the police why he has this emotion.
This is a very strong indication of artificial emotion; that is, artificial emotion of anxiety for the victim. This continues to show the priority is not Katelyn, but John Carter, the subject, himself.
D: What’s her name?
This should not have to be asked.
He had to be asked before he gave her name. This is indicative of something amiss in the relationship. We have his name and we have his emotions, but we do not know who the victim actually is, outside of her relationship to him as engaged.
Police should seek to learn if they fought this night, in particular, and if stressors had been building in the days or weeks up to this point.
He does not want to reveal the location where he last saw her, and he does not express optimism that they will find her, nor does he show any concern for her well-being to this point. His priority has been set in his language: John Carter is the priority of this call.
J: Katelyn Helene Markham.
D: Have you called the hospitals or jails or anything?
This is natural because he cannot find her “anywhere.” Note that the doubt may have crept into the mind of the 911 operator due to his “non-committal” words, or casual expressions, which caused her to add, “or anything?”
J: Um –
He does not answer, but only pauses to think.
D: Where was she at midnight last night when you last saw her?
At this point, she is his fiancée so the expectation is that he will say “we were at her house”, using the word “we”, which would show unity, since they were engaged to be married. Pronouns are intuitive, instinctive and powerful. Instead, we get:
J: She was at her house. She was going to bed. She wasn’t going out to do anything, so she would’ve been in her bed. And I mean, I’ve been with her for 6 years – she’s not deceiving, you know, she doesn’t –
He did not use Katelyn’s name. He does not use the pronoun “we” here. This is a very tense time for him and it is the location he first did not want to answer. This was a very good question. He does not include himself in the first responses.
- She was at her house.
- She was going to bed. This is to show her intention, but not what happened. Both of these statements may be, initially, and technically, true, but they are not the complete answer of what happened to Katelyn. The lack of “we” in this is critical. Why?
“We drove to the woods and he raped me. We drove home and I called police.” This is an example of a deceptive statement because the pronoun “we” indicates unity and cooperation. Once the rape has occurred, there is no more “we” between rapist and victim. When the word “we” enters the statement after the assault, it is likely deceptive. Victims despise the rapist and will not use the pronoun “we” here.
In the same sense, the person he was engaged to is missing. This means he should be on high alert and well familiar with the last moments they were together, thinking of the last moments “we were together”, over and over in his mind. The high hormonal response would make this crystal clear in his mind and language. That he does not use the pronoun “we” here is most unexpected and affirms the Incomplete Social Introduction in the first response, and the distancing language of avoiding using her name.
When asked about the last time he was with her, he does not use the pronoun “we” is to reveal to us that there was, at the last time they were together, no unity between them. This is an example of extreme distancing due to context.
These are two things he states and it is likely true. He has brought us to a very critical point of the night she went missing. He should continue to tell us what was happening, or about to happen. She was at her house and was going to go to bed when something happened. Now notice the sequence is broken:
“She wasn’t going out to do anything”
What someone tells us in the negative is important information. Here he has three things to tell us what she was not doing: not going out “to do anything”; not deceiving, and doesn’t, but stops himself or is interrupted.
He not only tells us that she wasn’t going out, but adds “to do anything.” This is critical.
Police need to learn what he does when he goes out at night.
Did she refuse to go out?
D: Okay, and you guys didn’t have an argument or anything?
This is a simple, “yes or no” question. We note that he should say “no” with nothing added as there should be no reason to emphasize the negative.
J: Not at all.
“Not at all” is not the simple “no” and should lead to follow up questions such as, “What did you discuss last night?”
This is a strong indication that they had an argument. It is affirmed by the Incomplete Social Introduction, avoidance of her name (distancing language) and the avoidance of the word “no”, coupled with the need to emphasize, “not at all.”
D: Okay. Is she on any medications or anything?
J: Not at all.
He now repeats his previous denial. Repetition becomes weaker as it goes on, because it gets easier and easier (less stressful) to use. She may not have been on any meds but she may have been on “anything”, such as marijuana, or she could have been drugged. By simply stating “no”, it would not have triggered suspicion about possible drug use.
D: Has she had thoughts of suicide or anything like that?
J: No. Never. I... never.
Broken sentence means missing information. He begins with a strong, “no”, but weakens it with “never”; but then makes this about himself with “I”
Why would her suicide thoughts be linked to him? Was something about breaking up and “not being able to go on” without the other, enter the argument?
This is very concerning.
He still has not used Katelyn’s name yet. This is an avoidance of the name of the victim; a psychological de-personalizing of the victim.
The 911 operator is in the place of having to go ‘fishing’ for information. Remember, he already said that he could not find her “anywhere” but in further questioning, we have indication that he has not searched anywhere, therefore, the 911 operator takes upon herself the burden of trying to facilitate information because John Carter is not.
D: All right. And have you talked to her mom or anybody like that, to see if maybe she’s out shopping, or – ?
J: I called her father. The only thing that’s not there is her cell phone, which is positive, but she’s not answering it. So… and the Sacred Heart Festival is going on right up the street, and there’s a lot of questionable people there, and it’s just kind of. I’m sorry.
He called “her” father; still the avoidance of her name. Next he tells us that the “only thing not there” (in the negative) is her cell phone. This is to say that he has direct knowledge of what else was not missing. This tells us that he either inventoried her entire apartment or he has direct knowledge of what was not taken and has a purpose for saying so. This is affirmed by his next words, “…which is positive” while refuting this with the word “but.”
The investigators should wonder how it is that he knows that this is the “only thing” not there.
Please next note the suggestion of possible criminals with the “Sacred Heart Festival.” He states that there are lots of “questionable people” there.
Then he concludes with two words that are sometimes found within guilty callers of 911 calls:
There is a psychological reason for this. Guilty people who call 911 in a domestic homicide recognize that the victim is beyond help, so any words that seem to suggest concern are often weak, or even absent. They know that the victim is beyond help, and the one person who really needs help is the caller, himself. The guilty caller in a domestic homicide is the one in need of help, particularly a defense attorney. The guilty caller in a domestic homicide is the one who is sorry for what he has done; it may not have been pre meditated but something exploded out of control.
Statistically, the inclusion of these two words is associated with guilt.
When Cindy Anthony threatened to call 911, Casey might not have believed her at first, but Cindy went through with it, and then put Casey on the phone to report missing toddler, Caylee Anthony. In short order, Casey said, “I’m sorry” within the call.
It is not always sorrow or regret for the homicide, but the guilty caller may be sorry that he is even in this position, or that he “had to” take the victim’s life.
D: Okay, well, we’ll go ahead and have somebody meet you there. What kind of vehicle are you going to be in?
J: A 2008 Ford Docus. It’s red.
The unnecessary and small detail to appear cooperative. Yet, nothing about Katelyn; nothing about what she was wearing when last with him. He gives much more information about himself than he does about the victim.
D: Okay, we’ll have somebody come out and speak with you, okay?
J: Okay, thank you.
D: Mmmhmm. Bye.
J: Okay. Bye.
The caller, John Carter, is deceptively withholding information about what happened to Katelyn Markham, when he made this call.
He had a need to not only withhold information, but to portray himself as a ‘good guy’; ingratiating himself to police, who would be investigating him. This is the ‘make friends’ psychological attempt to be “on the same side” as law enforcement investigators.
He does not work to facilitate information to locate Katelyn. Some specifics of this include:
- He is the priority of this call; not Katelyn.
- He psychologically distances himself from Katelyn.
- He expresses no concern for Katelyn, while highlighting his own emotions.
- He is deceptive about the last time he saw her alive.
- He is deceptive about searching ‘everywhere’ for her.
- He is concerned about how he is perceived by the police, rather than concern for Katelyn.
- He signals that the search is not going to end well by claiming that he could not find her anywhere, yet, he had not verbalized any search. The “I can’t find her anywhere” is the “hopeless conclusion” that guilty parties sometimes give. “I will search for the rest of my life” said OJ Simpson about Nicole’s “real” killer. This signals belief that there will be no success. John Carter uses the same vein of thinking; offering a false exasperation in order to appear anxious, with his own ‘appearance’ taking priority over Katelyn’s plight.
Conclusion Summary: John Carter shows the status of ‘guilty caller’ in this 911 call.
This does not mean he killed her. It means he has knowledge of what happened.
If someone else is arrested, the analysis is to make a correlation between the caller and the killer.
He has not been charged and this is only the opinion of Peter Hyatt, based upon the publicly released statements.