A suspected paedophile convicted of abducting and killing an 8-year-old girl has been murdered in jail by his cellmate, police say.
Anthony Palma, who was serving a life sentence at the maximum security Oklahoma Department of Corrections, was found unresponsive in his cell last Friday. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Prison bosses say Palma was murdered by a cellmate also doing life for first-degree murder. Further details on how he was killed, or the identity of Palma’s alleged killer have not yet been released. Officials have said the killer is likely to face fresh murder charges.
Palma was jailed two years ago for the 1997 murder of Kirsten Hatfield. He was arrested for Hatfield’s murder in 2015, and sentenced to life without parole in 2017.
8-year-old Hatfield was abducted from her home in Midwest City, Oklahoma. She was never seen alive again, and no trace of her body has ever been found.
Investigators found a pair of her underwear stained with blood in the backyard of her home, as well as a tiny amount of blood on the part-opened window of her bedroom after.
A cold case investigation into her disappearance was launched in 2015, with advances in DNA technology helping officials identify the blood as belonging to Palma. He lived two doors down from his victim at the time she disappeared, and was still resident in the same property at the time of his arrest.
Palma was interviewed twice during the initial investigation into Hatfield’s disappearance, with police saying they believe his intention was to sexually assault his young victim. He has always maintained his innocence, with Kirsten’s mother Shannon Hazen breaking into sobs as jurors were shown her late daughter’s underwear during Palma’s murder trial.