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Oklahoma Police Arrest Man for 1997 Abduction and Murder of Little Girl

October 15, 2015  | 

Joseph Palma, 56, was charged with the nearly 20-year-old abduction and murder of an 8-year-old girl. (Photo: Midwest City PD)
Joseph Palma, 56, was charged with the nearly 20-year-old abduction and murder of an 8-year-old girl. (Photo: Midwest City PD)

Oklahoma police using DNA evidence arrested a man in a child abduction case from nearly two decades ago that saturated local news coverage and led to a national manhunt for the girl and her assailant.

Joseph Palma, 56, was arrested on first-degree murder and kidnapping charges on suspicion of breaking into the bedroom of a neighbor, 8-year-old Kirsten Hatfield, in 1997 in Midwest City, just east of Oklahoma City, officials said on Tuesday.

Hatfield was last seen by her mother after tucking her into bed.

"Numerous leads were investigated in the case immediately after the crime was discovered but the juvenile was never found and the trail went cold," Midwest City Police Detective Darrell Miller said in an arrest affidavit.

Earlier this year, investigators went back to examine blood found on the windowsill of the girl's room and on her underwear, neither of which had been tested previously. Detectives then went back to collect DNA samples from all involved in the case, the affidavit said.

Testing showed Palma's DNA matched the blood samples, Reuters reports.


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