Kirsten Renee Hatfield
Kirsten, approximate photo date 1997 Age-progression to age 24 (approximate photo date 2013) Anthony Palma
Missing since: 05/14/1997
Midwest City, Oklahoma
Type of missing case: Non-Family Abduction
Date of Birth: 02/12/1989 (31)
Age at time of disappearance: 8 years old
Height / Weight: 4'2, 55 pounds
Description, clothing, tattoos, other identifying markings: An adult-size white t-shirt with the phrase "Bud Bowl" imprinted on the front.
Other characteristics: Caucasian female. Brown hair, brown eyes. Kirsten has a mole on the bridge of her nose near her left eye, and a discoloration on her neck. Her two upper front teeth are permanent and her ears are pierced. Kirsten stuttered when she spoke at the time of her 1997 disappearance, and she is left-handed. Her nickname is Kurdle Burdle.
Details at time of disappearance: Kirsten was last seen inside her family's residence in the 1100 block of Jet Drive in Midwest City, Oklahoma on May 13, 1997. She was in her bedroom with her three-year-old sister at approximately 11:30 p.m. when her mother put her to bed.
Her mother checked the bedroom again between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. on May 14 and discovered that Kirsten was missing. Small amounts of blood were discovered on the room's window sill and on the backyard's six-foot cyclone fence. The bedroom window was cracked open and Kirsten's ripped, bloodstained underpants were located in the backyard. There was no sign of her and she has not been seen again.
Authorities have stated they think Kirsten was harmed by someone close to her, possibly a relative, as they don't believe a stranger would have been able to carry her out the window and over the fence without a struggle or any noise. Several individuals close to her failed polygraphs after her disappearance, but there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone.
Kirsten's mother was involved with drugs at the time of Kirsten's disappearance and said she believed someone she knows, possibly someone connected to the drug culture, abducted the child.
In October 2015, Anthony Joseph Palma was arrested and charged with Kirsten's abduction and murder. A photo of Palma is posted with this case summary. He lived two doors down from Kirsten's home at the time of her disappearance, and was still living there at the time of his arrest.
Authorities matched his DNA to the blood found on Kirsten's bedroom windowsill and on her underwear. They believe Kirsten was kidnapped for the purpose of sexual assault and murdered shortly after her abduction. In the month following his murder arrest in 2015, while in jail, he unsuccessfully attempted suicide by slashing his wrists.
Palma was convicted of breaking into a woman's home and assaulting her in 1982. In 1979 or 1980, he may have sexually abused an eight-year-old girl in a crime similar to Kirsten's disappearance: he allegedly broke into the girl's bedroom through her window one night and molested her.
Police who responded to the scene noticed his truck parked near the girl's residence, and he knew the victim he was dating her older sister. He was not charged in the case due to lack of evidence. In 1998, a woman who lived with Palma accused him of drugging her and raping her he wasn't charged in that case either, however.
The prosecution presented the DNA evidence at Palma's trial in October 2017, and multiple witnesses testified that they had been sexually victimized by him as children. He maintained his innocence, but was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In January 2019, Palma was murdered in prison.
Foul play is suspected in Kirsten's disappearance due to the circumstances involved.
Other case information
Agency in charge: Midwest City Police Department
Other information: The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Child Protection Education of America
The Polly Klaas Foundation
Nation's Missing Children Organization
Unsolved in the News
Child Quest International Inc.
News on 6
KOCO Oklahoma City
Psychic detective links:
Revised: October 12, 2004. Last updated January 14, 2019 details of disappearance updated.