After 2 Years In A Coma, Axe Attack Victim Makes Startling Criminal Accusation

Comas are often misrepresented in popular culture. As a plot device in a movie or TV show, the writers can put a character into a coma — basically an extended state of unconsciousness (although that definition leaves out considerable medical nuance) — and have them "come out" of it some time later (via TV Tropes).

The reality of comas is considerably worse, however. According to the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, only about 10 percent of patients who go into lengthy comas make a "good recovery," and in fact, the majority of extended coma patients die. According to Live Science, those who do survive will need extensive rehabilitative therapy; they aren't going to just pop out of their hospital bed and resume their life as if nothing had ever happened.

In July 2022, a West Virginia woman beat the odds and recovered from a coma (via CNN). She was put there through an act of extreme violence, and when she recovered and was able to speak, she made a shocking allegation about how she wound up comatose in the first place.

The Assault Of Wanda Palmer

On June 10, 2020, lawn-care workers went to a Cottageville, West Virginia, home for a job and came upon a horrific sight: a woman, lying in a pool of blood, having suffered severe head trauma, possibly from a hatchet or axe (via WSAZ). "They said they ran up on the hill real fast and told us, and I called the police," said Eileen Palmer, the mother of the victim, who was identified as 50-year-old Wanda Palmer. The elder Mrs. Palmer said that even though she and her daughter lived within feet of each other, she had no idea that anything had happened. "I had my windows open in my home, and we never heard one thing," she told WSAZ. Similarly, a neighbor, Theresa Fisher, said she found out about the assault in her neighborhood when she heard about it over a police scanner. "I just hope they find the person who did it, if they haven't found them already so they can get to the bottom of it," she said.

At the time, authorities had little hope that she would survive. Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger told WCHS that the odds were not good. "I wouldn't have wagered a nickel for her life that morning, she was in that bad of shape. 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," he said.

Two Years In A Coma

According to CBS News, after the nearly-fatal assault, Wanda Palmer was sent to a nursing home, where she would spend the next two years in a coma. Meanwhile, the police did their best to try to investigate this horrific crime. "We've been all over the state trying to eliminate suspects, develop leads, execute search warrants. This hasn't been a stale case for two years but without any real credible information leading up to this. We had some persons of interest, but it takes some time to eliminate others and narrow it down and that's kind of where we were at," said Sheriff Ross Mellinger.

One of the people authorities were keen to speak to during this time was Daniel Palmer, Wanda's older brother. In fact, authorities had at one time identified him as a person of interest, but there was no evidence to connect him to the crime, and he had something of an alibi, claiming he hadn't been at his sister's home in days (via WCHS). However, a witness claimed to have seen Daniel at Wanda's home on the night of the assault, but it was not enough to pin the crime on him.

The (Alleged) Assailant Is Identified

On June 27, 2022, authorities received a call from the nursing home where Wanda Palmer was convalescing (via CBS News). Specifically, the caller said that Wanda Palmer had come out of her coma and was able to speak. A few weeks later, authorities went to talk to her, and they found her not only able to speak but oriented and coherent. Per WCHS, when they asked her who had assaulted her, she named her brother Daniel Palmer. Asked why he'd allegedly assaulted her, she was only able to say that her brother was "mean." "She asked for prayer," said a deputy who interviewed her.

In a July 15, 2022, Facebook post, the Jackson County (West Virginia) Sheriff's Office noted that Daniel Palmer had been taken into custody and charged with attempted murder and malicious wounding. So combative was Jackson that a magistrate had to come to the jail — instead of the other way around — to do his arraignment.

"For her to be able to wake up and give the name, thank God. That's all I can say, thank God, because she definitely deserves justice. Definitely," friend of the family, Myssi Powers, told WCHS.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.