In November of 1981, Patricia who liked to be called Denise had been happily married to her high-school sweetheart Randy Palmer for six months. She lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was incredibly happy with her life and even told her mum, Pat Carlile, that “life is almost too perfect.”
Patricia wanted to buy a house with her husband, so to help towards the deposit for a home, Patricia decided to sell her wedding dress. She placed an advert in the Sunday edition of the Tulsa World newspaper, using her mum’s phone number as the contact information.
On November the 15th, 1981, Patricia’s mum Pat received a phone call from a man who sounded elderly and had a “real nice voice.” The man said he wanted to buy Patricia’s wedding dress for his own daughter’s wedding. Pat was a bit off-put by the phone call as she said the man lacked the excitement and enthusiasm she would have expected to hear in the voice of a father of a soon-to-be bride.
Nevertheless, Pat made arrangements for the man to come to her house, located at 4127 S.Sandusky Avenue, Tulsa, on November 17th at around noon so that she could show the man Patrica’s wedding dress.
Pat ultimately decided that she was going to go shopping at the time of the meeting, so Patricia would have to meet the man herself. Patricia worked around six blocks away from her mum’s house, at the Southland Shopping Center, and she would often go to her mum’s house for lunch.
Pat told Patricia to be careful, and bring one of her co-workers with her to the meeting. She also told Patricia to hang the dress at the entrance of the home so that the man would not have to venture too far into the home.
Despite several of her co-workers offering to come with her, Patricia went to her mum’s house by herself as she felt she had no reason to not trust the man she was meeting.
A short while after the meeting had taken place, Pat tried to get hold of her daughter by calling her. When she was unable to get an answer, Pat asked a neighbour to go and check on her daughter.
Sadly, the neighbour found Patricia’s dead body floating in the bathtub.
Around the time of the meeting, some construction workers in the area noticed a man standing on Pat’s porch holding a wedding dress. The workers considered this to be strange, so they paid close attention to the man.
The man is described as being a white male around 40 years old with grey hair. He stood at around 5’10” – 6’0″ and was between 180 – 190 pounds. At the time, he was wearing grey slacks and a blue windbreaker. The man also had a noticeable birthmark or some kind of skin discolouration on the left side of his face.
His vehicle is described as being a 1972-1974 Chevrolet Impala in a black or dark blue colour. The car had an Oklahoma licence plate and was in extremely good condition, and looked to be well-maintained. The car may have had a chrome dealer decal on the left side of the bottom of the trunk lid, and may have had a black CB antenna mounted in the centre of the trunk lid or a fully extended antenna that was bent over the back of the vehicle.
Inside the house, police were able to determine that Patricia put up a good fight against her attacker as there was a trail of blood leading from the entranceway of the house, down the hallway and then into the bathroom.
Semen was also found at the scene of the crime which could have resulted in DNA evidence, it was unfortunately stored improperly at the time and was later found to be unusable. However, DNA was recovered from a gun that was found in the bathtub which is thought to belong to the killer. No match for the DNA has ever been found, and as it stands Patrica’s killer is unknown.
There is a possibility that Patrica’s case may be linked to the unsolved murder of Lisa Ann Henderson, who was murdered in 1979 after responding to an ad in the Tulsa World Newspaper for a modelling job. Lisa’s family home was located only a 15-minute drive away from Patricia’s mother’s house. She was last seen getting into a 1976-1977 maroon Chevrolet Monte Carlo, with a 40-year-old white man with dark, thin hair behind the wheel.
Lisa had been assaulted and shot and then her body was burnt to hide any evidence. No DNA evidence was found on or around Lisa’s body.
Whilst the description of the suspect in Lisa’s case does bear a similarity to the suspect in Patricia’s case, the cases have never offically been connected.
The only other suspect in Patricia’s case was a man called Paul Williford. In 2005 Paul confessed to choking two women to death on his paper route. He killed the women in or around bathtubs, and the homes in which he killed the women were located only a ten-minute drive away from where Patricia was murdered.
Between 1987-1995 Paul was serving time in prison for robbing and almost killing a woman in her 60s. Paul also said that he killed a hitchhiker in 1969.
However, Paul has denied any involvement in Patricia’s murder. He told media outlets that he would even take a lie detector test to prove his innocence. It is also not known where Paul was residing at the time of Patricia’s murder, as he had only been delivering newspapers in the area where she was murdered since 2003. Moreover, Paul did not have a noticeable birthmark or discolouration on the left side of his face like the suspect in Patricia’s murder.
As of 2022, Patricia’s murder still remains unsolved.
Do you know who was responsible?
Unsolved, Murder, Homicide, Cold Case, Oklahoma, 1980s, True Crime, Mystery, Unsolved Case, Patricia Palmer, Denise Palmer, Tulsa, 1981