Oklahoma police have finally closed an 18-year-old murder case, thanks to the suspect voluntarily providing DNA to the police earlier this year. The disappearance of 8-year-old Kirsten Hatfield had left the community of Midwest City, Oklahoma, shaken after the child when missing from her bedroom one night in 1997. The young girl would vanish without a trace with only a small amount of blood on her windowsill and a pair of her underwear in the backyard as the only clues. However, thanks to a voluntary DNA sample given by Anthony Palma, 56, the case has now been closed and Palma has been arrested for the murder and kidnapping of Hatfield.
The Daily Mail reports that Kirsten Hatfield, 8, was abducted from her family home in Midwest City, Oklahoma, on May 13, 1997. The girl’s mother, Shannon Hazen, told police that she tucked her daughter into bed on May 13, but the next morning when she went to wake her for school, she was nowhere to be found. The child had seemingly disappeared.
Police noted that the only clues in the case were a small amount of blood on the windowsill and the girl’s underwear which were found in the backyard. Both items had DNA of a mysterious individual that did not match anyone in the family. However, when police ran the DNA through the police database it was no match. That would all change 18 years later when the girl’s neighbor Anthony Palma is questioned and voluntarily provides a DNA sample to police.
When Palma’s DNA was placed in the database and tested against the DNA found in the Kirsten Hatfield case, it came back as a match of one in 293 sextillion, definitive proof for prosecutors and the police that Palma had committed the heinous crime 18 years earlier. According to KFOR, police arrested Anthony Palma and charged him with first-degree murder and kidnapping despite having yet to find Kirsten’s body. The prosecutors claim that the charges stem from the fact that there have been no reported sightings of Kirsten since her disappearance.
Police note that they did question Anthony back in 1997, but he claimed he was home all night when the abduction took place. However, when the case was reopened by cold case detectives, they decided to re-question Palma and ultimately asked for a DNA sample. It was noted that Palma provided his DNA sample voluntarily back in June. Palma is now being held in jail without bond awaiting his hearing for the murder and kidnapping charges.
This is not the first run-in with the law that Palma has had over the years. In fact, the former neighbor of the missing girl served nearly a year in prison for a 1985 assault. However, after being released from prison, Palma went back to his home in Midwest City, the same home that he allegedly lived when he abducted Kirsten in 1997. The man has remained in the home ever since.
Police claim that Palma likely stayed in the home in an attempt to cover up evidence of the horrendous crime, including possibly the body of the missing child. Police have now served a search warrant on the home and witnesses claim that the house is cordoned off with police tape as authorities search for more clues about the whereabouts of Kirsten or her body.
[Image Credit: Mugshot/ Midwest City Police Department]