Texas man accused in wife, in-laws stabbing deaths

January 26, 2012 - 7:55 PM
Dallas Stabbings

This photo provided by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department shows William Palmer. Police have arrested Palmer, 50, on capital murder charges after his estranged wife and her parents were found stabbed to death in a Dallas home. (AP Photo/ Dallas County Sheriff’s Department)

DALLAS (AP) — A man accused of stabbing his estranged wife and her parents to death in a Dallas home was arrested Thursday as he drove from a fast-food restaurant where officers tracked him after the killings, police said.

William Palmer, of Sachse, confronted Donya Palmer outside her parents' home Thursday morning before following her inside and fatally stabbing all three, Dallas Police Lt. David Pughes said.

The 50-year-old Palmer is accused of capital murder and was being held on $1 million bail at the Dallas County Jail, where officials did not know if he had retained an attorney.

Pughes described a brief series of attacks full of "screaming and commotion" that lasted less than five minutes.

Donya Palmer was staying with her parents, 69-year-old Raymond Davis and 67-year-old Mary Davis, at a home in east Dallas, Pughes said. William Palmer spotted her just after 6 a.m. as she came outside to get something from her car, he said.

Pughes said William Palmer stabbed his wife just inside the front door of the home, then Raymond Davis and Mary Davis. All three were dead at the scene.

Donya Palmer's sister, who was in the house with her 6-year-old daughter, was also wounded before she fled to an upstairs bedroom and called police, Pughes said.

Shortly afterward, undercover police officers spotted William Palmer near his home about 15 miles away in Sachse. They followed him to a nearby Taco Bueno restaurant, Pughes said.

Shortly after Palmer went through the restaurant drive-thru, local police stopped him and arrested him, Pughes said.

Taco Bueno manager Dolores Villa spotted injuries on Palmer's hands, authorities said. Villa told The Associated Press that Palmer was rushed as he paid for his meal — a sausage breakfast burrito and a soft drink.

"He looked like he wanted to hurry up," Villa said.

The couple had been separated a week. Authorities and neighbors said they did not know of any history of domestic violence between the two.

"It's impossible to provide an explanation as to what might be going through somebody's mind or what might cause somebody to snap and commit an act as heinous as this," Pughes said. "It's unthinkable."

Judith Ware, who lived next door to the Palmers before they separated, said she wasn't close to the couple but described William Palmer as friendly.

"I can't even picture in my mind that this man would do that," she said.

Donya Palmer was a longtime employee at American Gypsum in Dallas. President Dave Powers said her co-workers were "in shock."

"It's just a terrible tragedy," he said.

The couple's three children and other relatives could not be reached for comment.