MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (AP) — Authorities in suburban Oklahoma City have arrested a neighbor in the case of an 8-year-old girl who disappeared from her bedroom 18 years ago and whose body has never been found.
Investigators used DNA to link 56-year-old Anthony Palma to the disappearance and presumed death of 8-year-old Kirsten Hatfield, who was reported missing from her home on May 14, 1997, according to an affidavit released Tuesday by Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes.
Palma was arrested Monday on first-degree murder and kidnapping complaints, and Clabes said investigators are now searching his home for evidence. Palma lives two houses away from where Kirsten’s family lived in 1997, the affidavit said.
Blood was found on Kirsten’s windowsill and her underwear was found in her backyard, but the girl has not been seen since. At the time of her disappearance, investigators recovered DNA from the items but did not get a hit when running the information through a database.
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The affidavit said Palma willingly gave a DNA sample in June to investigators following up on the case and results showed a match of one in 293 sextillion.
Court records don’t list an attorney for Palma, who is being held without bond.
“There have been no verified sightings or contact from Kirsten since May … of 1997,” the affidavit from Midwest City Police Detective Darrell Miller said. “Therefore, it can be concluded that she was killed shortly after her abduction … It is likely that Palma has been motivated to stay in the same home to conceal evidence of the crime and/or the location of Kirsten’s body.”