“We thought for sure this was a murder case,” Sheriff Ross Mellinger said to news outlets. Wanda Palmer ended up surviving, but she fell into a coma. Over two long years, as she lay unconscious in a nursing home, the case stalled.
Police said they found Palmer in an “upright position” on her couch with severe injuries caused by what appeared to be a hatchet or ax. When police arrived, they thought she was dead but realized she was alive and breathing shallowly, Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger told CNN. The weapon still hasn’t been found.
After the attack, a witness reported seeing Daniel Palmer on his sister’s porch around midnight on the night she was found CNN reported. Police investigated several people, and he was listed as a suspect, but they couldn’t file charges.
“We had a little bit of an idea what happened, but the problem was with the nuts and bolts of the case. We had nothing to go on,” Mellinger told West Virginia MetroNews. “There [were] no eyewitnesses, nobody lived in the home, no surveillance footage, no cellphone records. There was virtually nothing there to move forward on.”
A deputy received a call on June 27 from a protective services worker who said she had started to speak single words and seemed to respond when questioned.
In a July 12 interview with a deputy, Wanda Palmer said the person who injured her was her brother and she identified him as Daniel, a criminal complaint obtained by WCHS-TV said.
Daniel Palmer was arrested on Friday. He was arraigned and placed under a $500,000 bond.