17 Years Ago, Deborah Palmer, a little girl from Oak Harbor was found dead on a beach. Her murder horrified her hometown, and her killer has never been found.
Parella Lewis took on this disturbing, senseless Murder Mystery.
Usually a day on the beach is pleasant and comes with smiles, but when Parella joined Det. Teri Gardner with the Oak Harbor Police Department near the water, it was to relive a horrible day in the small town’s history.
On March 26th, 1997, Deborah Palmer, just seven years old, was getting ready for school. Her 11 year old cousin stopped by, as usual, to walk Deborah to class. Det. Gardner tells Parella what happened next. “The cousin went inside, saw Deborah. She wasn’t ready for school, so the cousin left on her own. Deborah said she would be leaving for school as soon as she got ready. That was the last person known to see Deborah alive.”
The tight- knit community quickly organized a search party and the next day, some of Deborah’s belongings were found about 5 miles from her school. “The search party noticed that there were items. At that time, there were more trees in the area, and under the branches you could see the backpack and the jacket.”
Deborah was nowhere to be found. But, five days after she went missing, a grave discovery was made in another nearby location. “She was found wedged under a log and the tide action had come in and out. So, we don’t know if she was on the beach and the tide action – her clothing was wet – or whether she was in the water for a period of time and then came into the beach.”
Investigators still aren’t sure if she washed up to shore, or was she put there. And, adding even more questions to this mystery, is the isolated location where her body was found. “This is a privately-owned beach front and the homes are on bluffs. There are no direct paths to this beach.”
The questions surrounding this case are endless and 13 years later, it’s not just investigators, but Deborah’s own mother, Madeline Davis, still searching for answers. “She’s my best friend. We’ve been through a lot together. She’s my helper. We’ve been through a lot together. She’s been through a lot with me. She was the only one there for me through a hard time.”
Deborah’s younger brother, who also talked with Parella, was only five years old when she was killed. “I had a sister taken away from me. I had someone that I could tell all my problems to and be able to do all this stuff with – taken away from me.”
One ray of hope in this cold case comes from new technology. Some of Deborah’s personal belongings are being re-processed and Det. Gardner hopes that could finally lead authorities to the killer. “Touch DNA is a new discovery that a person can simply touch an object or a piece of clothing and they can pull enough DNA off of that and they can work it into a profile.”
In the meantime, authorities are hoping that new information surfaces from the public as well. “We have a family that needs closure and if someone out there knows something, it’s not just to solve this crime. it’s also to bring closure.”
Deborah’s mom holds back tears as she pleads for the public’s help. “If there’s anyone out there that knows anything or anyone out there that can help me, please help me.”
Powerful pleas from Deborah’s family, and the investigators working to solve her murder.
If you know anything – no matter how small or irrelevant you may think it is – call: Crime Stoppers: 1-800-222-TIPS
Until this case is solved, a child killer is still out there roaming free.