A man was sentenced to life in prison for raping and killing an 8-year-old girl. However, not long after beginning his lengthy sentence, the child killer received a particularly sinister homecoming surprise from his cellmate.
Kirsten Renee Hatfield was abducted from her home in Mid West City, Oklahoma, on May 13, 1997, before suffering an unfathomable fate. Anthony Palma, who lived just two houses away, allegedly kidnapped the 8-year-old girl before horrifically raping and mu*rdering her to cover up his crimes.
After nearly two decades, DNA testing narrowed down the list of suspects to Palma, who was finally arrested at the same house where he’d been living since kidnapping the little girl. Palma was eventually identified as the victim’s killer in 2015, thanks to blood extracted from the victim’s panties, which were discovered in her backyard.
In 2017, the Oklahoma County District Court sentenced Anthony Palma to life in prison without the possibility of parole, providing justice to the long-suffering family. Despite his conviction, Palma maintained his denial of any involvement in the rape and mu*rder of the girl, refusing to return Kirsten’s body to her family.
Despite the fact that Palma had the option to appeal his sentence, he never did. However, only one year into his life sentence, the convicted mur*derer had an encounter with his cellmate that likely made him regret not taking that chance.
According to KFOR, Anthony Palma was found brutally murd*ered by his cellmate Raymond Pillado, who delivered the same gruesome fate to him that he had inflicted on his 8-year-old victim decades before.
Palma was discovered “lying face down on the floor” during the prison’s regular Friday night unit check, according to investigators. According to the incident report, guards noticed a body covered with a blanket. They saw Palma’s body in a pool of blood when they told Pillado to remove the covering.
Authorities confirmed that Pillado was responsible for Palma’s death but provided no additional information about how or why he was killed. Pillado is already serving several life sentences for shooting with intent to kill, three counts of first-degree mur*der, felon in possession of a firearm, and driving while discharging a weapon.
Unfortunately, authorities had hoped to interview Palma again in order to learn where he hid Kirsten’s body. Unfortunately, her family is now faced with the possibility that they will never find their child’s body.
“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 said. “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.”
Despite the fact that Anthony Palma caused their daughter unimaginable pain and suffering, the Hatfield family has only expressed forgiveness and mercy for Palma in the days leading up to his death. In fact, Kirsten’s mother remained hopeful that he would focus on repairing his relationship with his own daughter and possibly reuniting them with theirs.
“I’ve actually come to a position of forgiveness over eight years ago with the nameless faces of the abductor, so we were already in a position of forgiveness at the time of his arrest,” said Shannon Hazen, the mother of Hatfield.
Shannon revealed, in an incredible act of mercy, that she had been writing Palma letters that contained prayers for him and his family and urged him to come clean.
“I believe God loves him. “We hope he gets them and reads them at some point, just to see how serious we are,” she said of the letters.
Despite the fact that Kirsten’s entire family assured Anthony Palma that they had forgiven him and hoped he would atone for his crimes by telling police where her body was, the remorseless killer refused every opportunity to do the right thing. In the end, he received a similar punishment to the monstrous fate he imposed on the innocent child.
It’s no secret that even the most heinous criminals find crimes against children particularly repugnant. Even 13 months on the taxpayers’ dime was far too long for Palma.