The “Baffling” Case of Katelyn Markham

As writers, we are also researchers. To make our stories come to life, jump off the page and resonate with readers, we must make the details as real as possible. That means we must contend with current events that are often disturbing, but nonetheless captivating. 

On this Mystery Monday, let’s look at the current case of Katelyn Markham, a girl that’s been missing without a trace for two weeks now. While we need to respect the fact that this is a case about a missing human being, we can also use the details of this case to enrich our own stories, which may actually help our readers deal with similar tragedies in their own lives, or help them explain the inexplicable.

Here are some of the details of Katelyn’s case so far:

1. There’s no evidence of foul play, not one scrap. Police have searched on foot, on ATVs and even from airplanes and have found nothing.

2. Authorities have gone through Katelyn’s cell phone and computer records. There’s nothing to indicate any reason why she would leave or any evidence that something bad has happened to her. In fact, the only thing missing is her cell phone.

3. Investigators and family members and friends alike are “baffled” by her disappearance. Said Police Chief Mike Dickey in  a TV interview, “I’ve been doing this for 40 plus years, and I can’t recall a case where there’s simply no evidence whatsoever. It’s almost like she just vanished.”

4. It’s only a month before she was going to get her college degree, and family members said there’s no way she would have run away before she completed that important goal.

So where is Katelyn Markham? And, for us writers, how can we use the details of this baffling case to influence our writing? Most times, when writers construct mysteries, there’s a certain sequence, however twisty is may be, for readers to follow. But at least there’s a sequence. What if the story was about a case like this one? Where there seems to be no rhyme or reason? And what about the details of the case? No evidence of wrong doing, no evidence of even a struggle. The boyfriend and family members, the first ones that are typically checked out by police, seem to be clean. If you were writing a story from the boyfriend’s or father’s perspective about a case like this one, would you have them moving heaven and earth to try to find her? But if a police chief with 40+ years experience can’t figure out where to start, where would that character start? Finally, what do you think happened to Katelyn Markham? And do you think that it’s right to use such tragic cases to help formulate the novels or short stories that you write? Should there be a “grace period” before mining these news stories and possibly turn news nuggets into novel gold?  

To the keyboards!


Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at