Authorities in Oklahoma confirmed that an inmate convicted for the 1997 murder of an 8-year-old girl died last month as a result of strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head.
The Office of the State Medical Examiner informed the Associated Press of Anthony Palma’s cause of death on January 11 at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. At the time of his death, Palma, 59, was serving a life sentence for the presumed murder of his child neighbor, Kirsten Hatfield, who vanished in 1997 and remains missing.
Despite Hatfield’s body never being found, Palma was convicted of abducting, sexually assaulting, and killing the 8-year-old before dumping her body in an unknown spot. Palma was charged in connection with Hatfield’s disappearance in 2015, when DNA testing linked blood on the girl’s windowsill matched a pair of underwear located in his backyard, according to Fox News.
The Oklahoman reported that Parma was sent to prison 13 months before his cellmate, Raymond Pillado, 35, allegedly killed him. Pillado, a gang member, was incarcerated in 2010 after admitting to three fatal shooting and other crimes.
A heavily-redacted Oklahoma Corrections Department incident report stated that Parma was found lying face-down in his cell, covered with a blanket. When the blanket was removed, a corrections officer discovered “blood all over the floor and inmate Palma appeared to not be breathing,” according to the report.
Authorities revealed they were planning to question Parma about the location of Hatfield’s remains prior to his death
“We’re certainly not encouraging violent acts in the penitentiary, but some people would say that he met his justice – but our concern is the fact that we’ve not had closure on this case and we may never have closure because we wanted to find her body and bring her home,” Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes told KFOR.
“Our hopes are, with any case like this, the suspect who’s convicted… in this case, it was Anthony Palma… that hopefully he would have some inkling of a conscience, maybe intervention by a higher power, maybe God and come out and tell us exactly what he did with her.”
[Featured Image: Kirsten Hatfield/NCMEC]