Woman identifies suspect in her attack after spending two years in a coma

RIPLEY, W.Va. — A case which most investigators figured would never be solved has picked up fast traction after the victim was suddenly able to tell them what happened.

Jackson County Sherriff Ross Mellenger said in the past week his detectives got a call from a New Martinsville long term care center informing them Wanda Palmer had come out of a two year coma. The woman had been savagely beaten at her home in Cottageville in June of 2020.

“When we got there, to be honest we thought she was dead,” Mellenger said.

Mellenger’s team worked to find evidence of her attacker, but every lead kept drying up.

“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. There was no eye witnesses, nobody lived in the home, no surveillance footage, no cell phone records. There was virtually nothing there to move forward on,” he explained.

But this week, investigators travelled to the care home in Wetzel County and learned Palmer’s communication skills, despite severe brain damage in the attack, were still intact to the point she could identify her attacker and explain what happened.

“The keys to the whole thing lay with the victim herself and with her unable to communicate we were left with nothing. Now low and behold two years later and boom , she’s awake and able to tell us exactly what happened,” he said.

Palmer identified her brother, Daniel Palmer as the attacker. He was arrested this week and charged with attempted murder and malicious wounding.

Mellenger said they believed the weapon in the case was a machete or a hatchet and the victim had been severely bludgeoned about the head. Deputies questioned Daniel Palmer, but Mellenger would not indicate what if anything he had to say about the allegations.

“He didn’t give us any fight or anything. There was a little bit of surprise, but not entirely.” the Sheriff.

Mellenger said the investigation will continue.

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