Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe secured a grand jury indictment on Monday against Eugene Palmer, the 73-year-old who has been missing since he allegedly shot and killed his daughter-in-law and fled into Harriman State Park.
The indictment allows authorities to commit more resources to successfully prosecute Palmer in the death of Tammy Palmer on Sept. 24. Palmer's name now can be listed on nationwide police databases so that law enforcement agencies around the county will know he's a fugitive if he's captured or detained for unrelated offenses, such as a traffic violation, Zugibe said.
"The victim was a loving mother with a promising future whose life was brutally and senselessly cut short," Zugibe said in a statement issued Monday. "This indictment serves to effectively document and preserve vital testimonial evidence in this case and enables the issuance of an arrest warrant to ensure the arrest and prosecution of the defendant in the event he is located."
Palmer, a Stony Point resident, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of the 39-year-old mother of two. If convicted, he would face 25 years to life in prison.
Although Palmer hasn't been seen for almost two months, Haverstraw Police Chief Charles Miller said officers are still on the lookout for him. Police periodically have resumed their searches in the 46,613-acre state park, but to no avail.
"The victim had her life taken away by the defendant during a deadly confrontation which ended in mindless gunfire," said Miller, who also was quoted in the statement. "Our investigation is ongoing, and my officers will continue an aggressive search for the defendant to make certain he will he held accountable for his crime."
Tammy Palmer's family believes she was killed because she had brought domestic violence charges against her husband, John Palmer, 39. Eugene Palmer urged his daughter-in-law to drop the case, but she refused, sparking heated arguments.
After her children left for school on the morning of Sept. 24, Eugene Palmer allegedly shot Tammy Palmer outside her home at 570 Willow Grove Rd. and fled into the park, officials said.
Eugene Palmer was last reported seen by his sister, Elaine Palmer Babcock, who told police that he had come to her nearby house after the shooting to give her money to pay taxes on his property. He also asked her to wait a little while before contacting the authorities.
Wanted posters with Eugene Palmer's photo have circulated to police departments across the nation but have not turned up any clues, officials said.