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Crime News Breaking News

West Virginia Woman Wakes Up From Coma Two Years After Attack, Identifies Brother As Attacker

Wanda Palmer was found unconscious and with severe head wounds in her home in June 2020. She woke up after two years in a coma and said the man who did it was her brother, Daniel Palmer

By Jill Sederstrom
A police handout of victim Wanda Palmer

Two years after a West Virginia woman was violently attacked in her Cottageville home, she awoke from her coma to name her alleged attacker — her own brother.

Wanda Palmer told investigators she was attacked by her brother, Daniel Palmer, who is now facing charges of attempted murder and malicious wounding.

“After 2 years of being hospitalized and in a coma resulting from being attacked, hacked and left for dead, Wanda Palmer is now awake to see her assailant in custody — her brother, Daniel Palmer,” the Jackson County West Virginia Sheriff’s Department said in a statement announcing the arrest.

Wanda was found “injured and covered in blood” in her trailer home by her neighbors on June 10, 2020, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com.

Deputies arrived to find her unconscious, slumped on the couch with “severe injuries to her head” that authorities believe were made either by a hatchet or machete.

Although she was still breathing, deputies described her as making a “death rattle.”

"I wouldn't have wagered a nickel for her life that morning, she was in that bad of a shape,” Sheriff Ross Mellinger told WCHS. “Quite honestly, she was unconscious, circling the drain medically. Massive, massive amounts of head trauma, consistent with some sort of machete or hatchet-type injury.”

Investigators learned Wanda and her brother had a “violent history” and Daniel was named a suspect in the case. A witness reported seeing him at the home around midnight the night Wanda was assaulted, but Daniel insisted that he hadn’t been to his sister’s house in days.

“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,” Mellinger told West Virginia Metro News. "There was no eyewitnesses, nobody lived in the home, no surveillance footage, no cell phone records."

As the investigation continued, Wanda — who was in a coma and unable to communicate — was moved to a nursing home, according to the court records.

Authorities received the break they needed when her adult protective services worker called the sheriff’s department on June 27 to report that she had woken up from her coma and was able to respond to questions, despite suffering from brain damage.

Two deputies went to the nursing home where she was living on July 12 and asked her a series of open-ended questions about the attack, according to the complaint.

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

Wanda told deputies she remembered being in her trailer and getting hurt in the head. She told authorities that her brother Daniel had been the person who attacked her.

When asked why he may have wanted to harm her, she told deputies that “he was mean,” court records stated.

A police handout of suspect Daniel Palmer

"From an investigator's standpoint, this is about as rare as it gets,” Mellinger said of the unexpected break in the case. “I think it's a true testament to the perseverance and the strength of the victim herself."

Due to the extent of her injuries, Wanda is still not able to have full-length conversations, CNN reports.

Daniel was arrested and taken into custody Friday. He is currently being held at the South Central Regional Jail on a $500,000 bond.