A West Virginia woman woke up from a years-long coma after being brutally attacked and identified her brother as the assailant, authorities said.
Wanda Palmer, 51, had been in a long-term care facility in New Martinsville, West Virginia, after being brutally beaten in her home in June of 2020 and "left for dead," according to a statement from the Jackson County Sheriff Department.
Authorities Thought Wanda was Dead When They Found Her
Daniel Palmer, Wanda Palmer's 55-year-old brother, was arrested on Friday and booked on suspicion of attempted murder and malicious wounding of his sister near Cottageville, the sheriff said.
Police say they found Palmer in an "upright position" on her couch with severe injuries caused by what appeared to be a hatchet or ax. Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger said that when police arrived, they thought she was dead but realized soon after she was still alive and breathing shallowly.
Police never recovered the weapon, Mellinger said. One witness reported seeing Palmer's brother, Daniel, on her porch around midnight the night before she was discovered, Mellinger said. There were no phone records, surveillance footage, or witnesses outside of Palmer's home, the sheriff said. Police investigated several people but could never file charges.
According to a criminal complaint, the sister and her brother had a violent history, but Daniel Palmer denied any involvement in the attack and said he hadn't been to his sister's home in the days before the attack.
Wanda was Able to Speak Enough to Identify Daniel
Palmer's care facility contacted authorities last week to let them know the woman had come out of her coma, West Virginia Metro News reported. Medical staff told authorities that, despite suffering brain damage from the assault, that Palmer was able to speak enough to identify her assailant.
A deputy interviewed her in her room and said she indicated she recalled being hurt in a trailer. When asked who wounded her, she said her brother, the complaint says.
"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," Mellinger told the outlet.
Daniel was arraigned and assessed with a bond of $500,000, according to the sheriff, who said it is unclear how he pleaded. He doesn't have an attorney because he is refusing to sign any paperwork, according to Cathryn Brubaker in the Jackson County magistrate's office of the criminal court.