Murder suspect Eugene Palmer continued to elude a police dragnet Sunday, nearly a week after his daughter-in-law, Tammy Palmer, was gunned down outside her home near the Haverstraw-Stony Point border.
Town of Haverstraw police suspect the avid hunter and outdoorsman fled into Harriman State Park, about a half-mile from the property he shared with Tammy Palmer, her two children and his son, who was estranged from the slaying victim.
News12 reported Sunday that the thick cover of fallen leaves on the ground has stopped investigators from using a State Police helicopter whose sensors could pick up heat emitted by a human on the ground.
"We're still searching," Town of Haverstraw Police Chief Charles Miller told Newsday Sunday morning.
About a dozen police officers pushed into Harriman State Park on Sunday, according to News12.
Authorities have been in the woods at least 10 hours a day since Monday looking for Palmer, 73, who is suspected of shooting Tammy Palmer. They've covered miles of woods, Miller said, a search that has been complicated by weather conditions and the sheer size of the park.
Police said they did not know what equipment Eugene Palmer has with him, but he is considered armed and dangerous.
The life of 39-year-old Tammy Palmer was celebrated Saturday morning in a funeral Mass filled with singing, piano music and heartbreaking moments of uncontrolled sobbing by mourners.
"We trust that God is going to make all things right," Father Joseph LaMorte told a congregation of about 150 family and friends who gathered at St. Gregory Barbarigo Parish in Garnerville.
One simple floral arrangement was placed near the closed, chrome-trimmed pewter-gray casket as the presiding priest spoke of Tammy Palmer's "tragic, untimely death" and her new life in paradise. He also called for everyone to remember the sister and parents of the slain Haverstraw resident in their prayers and with visits because in the days ahead, "there will forever be that absence, that yearning."
While LaMorte acknowledged that the mourners came to the service with "a wide range of emotions" that included hurt, confusion, betrayal, grief and especially anger, he said the mission now is to focus on the "promise of God."
"My task is to ask you all to lay it aside," said LaMorte, in reference to the intense feelings generated by the slaying.
After the service, neighbor Peter Bevilacqua said that "life goes on." But he added, "Tammy was a great girl, a beautiful person. She loved her kids dearly."
Tammy Palmer leaves behind her daughter Rosemarie, 16, and son, John, 12.
Both children are now in the care of their maternal grandparents after a Rockland judge on Thursday awarded the couple temporary custody. Their father, John Palmer, is being allowed to see his children several times a week.
Tammy Palmer's family said she had a dispute with Eugene Palmer over criminal charges against her husband for alleged domestic abuse that the older Palmer wanted her to drop.
Police said they hope Eugene Palmer, who they believe could be squatting in one of the buildings around the park, will surrender.
As for the length of time that Eugene Palmer, a diabetic, could sustain himself in the woods, Miller said, "It could be a long time." Investigators have Eugene Palmer's cellphone, which he left behind in his house, but are waiting for a judge to grant them permission to look through it, according to Miller.
The police chief downplayed reports that Eugene Palmer might have headed for the Adirondacks, where he has a hunting cabin.
"I still believe he's in the woods here in Harriman," Miller said. "Could he have gotten out and gotten a ride 200 miles up there? It's doubtful, though possible."