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Tanya palmer

Tanya Palmer

Real Name: Tanya Lee Palmer
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Ligonier Township, Pennsylvania
Date: April 19, 1990

Case

Details: Eight-year-old Tanya Palmer was the daughter of twenty-five-year-old Annette Landis and Arnold Palmer. She lived in Ligonier Township, Pennsylvania, with Annette, her infant half-brother, Eddie, and Annette’s forty-five-year-old boyfriend, Edward Carl Wissinger. On the night of April 19, 1990, Edward babysat Tanya and Eddie while Annette was working at a Blairsville diner.
Sometime that night, Tanya drowned in the second-floor bathroom’s bathtub. Wissinger told police that they had played outside until it was dark. At around 8:45pm, after watching TV, she went upstairs to take a bath. Fifteen minutes later, he went upstairs to check on her and found her body submerged in the tub. He claims it was an accident, but others believe it was murder. The results of an initial autopsy were “inconclusive.”
Suspects: Wissinger is considered a suspect in Tanya’s death. He was the only adult in the house that night, and there were no signs of forced entry. His story was reportedly inconsistent, and it was known that he often disciplined her by yelling at her. She reportedly told people that she was afraid that he would kill her.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the January 6, 1995 episode, which focused on Dr. Cyril Wecht.

Edward wissinger

Edward Wissinger

Results: Solved - A funeral home director called the police after he noticed bruises on Tanya’s body that became visible after he administered embalming fluid. Dr. Cyril Wecht, a renowned forensic pathologist, performed a second autopsy on her. He discovered bruises on the tops of her feet and along the arches. These bruises supported the theory that she was forcibly held up by her feet and dangled into the tub with her head under water, which caused her to drown.
Bruises were also found on Tanya’s arms and head, which apparently occurred when she thrashed her body against the tub while she was being held under the water. Dr. Wecht determined that the bruises were “quite recent,” indicating that they occurred just prior to or during her death. He also determined that they were caused by a “traumatic event” and were not accidental. He listed her cause of death as “asphyxiation due to drowning.” He ruled her death a homicide.
On May 15, 1990, Wissinger was arrested and charged with Tanya’s murder. According to the police, his story regarding that night was inconsistent. It is believed that she was dead much longer than he had indicated. When a paramedic tried to put her on a stretcher, he noticed that rigor mortis had already started setting in. An emergency room physician also noticed this and believed she was dead longer than Wissinger indicated.
That same night, Wissinger told a state trooper that “99% of the trouble” between himself and Annette was over him disciplining Tanya. He often disciplined her by yelling and screaming at her. Witnesses said he often yelled at her “for no apparent reason.” A few weeks prior to her death, he allegedly said to her, “I’m going to kill you,” because she refused to watch TV in her room. Annette made him leave the house for a few days.
Although no one saw Wissinger physically abuse Tanya, they did see him “push her head” on a number of occasions. He told police that he did not realize how “hard a job it was” to raise her, and that she would “provoke and irritate” him. Prior to her death, she told friends and relatives that he had threatened to kill her. In one instance, he specifically said that he would “kill [her] and nobody would ever know.” She was reportedly very afraid of him. She even locked her door at night because she was afraid he would harm her.
One of Tanya’s friends said that during a sleepover at Tanya’s house, Tanya told her that Wissinger wanted to “come in and stab [her].” Tanya also said that he had thrown her out of the house once and called her a “bitch.” Tanya asked her friend to promise not to tell anyone about his threats because she was “afraid something might happen.” As a result, the friend did not say anything until after Tanya’s death.
At the trial, an inmate testified that Wissinger told him that he waited forty-five minutes before calling for help. Several people testified about his threats and discipline toward Tanya. Some of her relatives said that they had never seen him treat her nicely. A family friend testified that she received a call from him that night about finding Tanya in the bathtub. She asked him if he had called 911, and he said, “For what?” The next day, however, he told her that he had called 911 before calling her.
Wissinger, meanwhile, maintained his innocence and insisted that her death was an accident. He said that when he found her in the bathtub, he tried to lift her out, but he slipped on a rug and dropped her back in. When he got her out, he performed CPR on her before calling friends and 911. He said that the bruises on her were caused by falls at home and school.
Wissinger said that he treated Tanya as he treated his own daughters, and that they “got along well.” Annette and three of his daughters testified that they had never seen him physically abuse Tanya. Annette said she was never aware of a problem between him and Tanya. He said that he did yell at her quite often, and that she often did things that irritated him, but he never physically harmed her. He said he was “justified” when he yelled at her.
In September 1991, Wissinger was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. In 1993, he appealed his conviction, but it was upheld.
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