MIDWEST CITY, Okla. – Kirsten Hatfield would have been 30-years-old on Monday, and her family is still searching for answers.
Eight-year-old Kirsten Hatfield disappeared from her Midwest City home in May 1997. She was never found and the case went cold.
However, prosecutors filed murder charges against Anthony Palma in 2015, after DNA found on a pair of Hatfield’s blood-stained underwear matched Palma.
The DNA evidence was a key to prosecutors’ case against Palma.
Palma lived two doors down from Hatfield and still lived there at the time of his arrest.
After finding Palma guilty of first-degree murder, the jury recommended he serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Last month, authorities confirmed that Palma was killed at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary by his cellmate.
His murder added another roadblock to the search to find Kirsten’s body.
“I’m still curious as to events that occurred that night from the time he made a decision to abduct her, to what happened that evening, to what happened to her body and what he did with her,” Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes told News 4. “Perhaps [Palma] told someone. But, perhaps someone he knows, maybe he told somebody. So, our plea to the public is, if he did… come forward, let us know.”
Kirsten’s mother says that although Palma murdered her daughter, she did not want his life to end this way.
“I had forgiven Anthony Palma long before I knew he was the one who murdered my daughter,” Shannon Hazen, Kirsten’s mother, said on a YouTube video.
She says that her faith led her to forgive Palma, and helped her stay strong throughout the investigation.
On what would have been Kirsten Hatfield’s 30th birthday, her mother said she is still seeking answers related to her daughter’s disappearance.
22 years after her disappearance, her body has never been recovered.
Hazen says that she wants investigators to search the lake that Palma used to work at to see if anything tied to Kirsten may be lurking there.
However, she says that she is worried that since Palma is dead, the search for her daughter’s remains may be pushed aside.
“I’m also concerned that Palma’s death provides an opportunity to be complacent and I cannot sense a responsibility to investigate Palma for other missing persons crimes,” she said.
“I am wise enough to know that Kirsten’s worth is being ignored, but I’m also out of ideas that can bring her case to a just conclusion. I am asking for prayers, insights, connections, opportunities to light up the darkness that continues to ignore Kirsten’s worth. I believe God will bring her case to a just conclusion, I just cannot base that conclusion on what is told to me by those who are currently investigating her case,” she added.