MIDWEST CITY, Oklahoma -- The man convicted of abducting and killing 8-year-old Kirsten Hatfield 22 years ago is dead. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections confirmed late Saturday night that Anthony Palma was killed Friday. Now Midwest City PD, which investigated the Palma case, is responding to his death.
“First of all, I was shocked, second I was thrilled and third I was heartbroken,” said Chief Brandon Clabes with the Midwest City Police Department.
These were the mix of emotions Chief Clabes had when he heard the news that Anthony Palma was killed behind prison walls.
“From a human standpoint, a parent's standpoint and I probably speak for 99.9 percent of the population, he probably met his justice,” Chief Clabes said.
The department spent decades trying to figure out what happened to 8-year-old Kirsten Hatfield - who was snatched from her bedroom in 1997.
“We were so excited when we were able to identify Anthony and get the conviction,” he said.
Palma lived just two doors down from the family. In 2015, police matched his DNA to blood found at the scene. A jury found him guilty of first-degree murder in 2017, even though Kirsten’s body has never been found. Following the trial, Kirsten's mother Shannon haze felt justice was served.
“I can't explain, but we are just floored by this miracle and so thankful,” Hazen had said outside the courtroom, following the guilty verdict.
However, for the family and the police department, the case wasn't entirely closed.
“Yes, he was convicted and sentenced but we never found her daughter and that was our hopes and certainly her hopes,” said Chief Clabes.
Palma was serving a life sentence without parole when he was killed Friday night, allegedly at the hands of his cell mate at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
“With his death, it leaves us heartbroken by the fact that we may never find Kirsten’s body and that was our hope that eventually he would someday tell us exactly what he did with her,” he said. “It doesn't bring any closure for any of us.”
The department of corrections is investigating Palma’s death and at this point is not releasing the name of the cell mate unless charges are filed against him. Meanwhile, the Medical Examiner’s office is conducting the autopsy and once complete, will release Palma’s exact cause of death.