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Police search woods for New York man, 73, wanted in murder of daughter-in-law

Eugene Palmer, 73, of Haverstraw, N.Y., admitted to relatives that he killed 39-year-old Tammy Palmer, above, after shooting his daughter-in-law on Monday, minutes after she put her two children on a school bus, according to Palmer’s father, John Pannirello. (Courtesy: John Pannirello)

A search is ongoing for an elderly New York man wanted for allegedly shooting his daughter-in-law to death early Monday, relatives and police told FoxNews.com.

Eugene Palmer, 73, of Haverstraw, admitted to relatives that he killed Tammy Palmer, 39, after shooting her at about 7:40 a.m. Monday, minutes after putting her two children on a school bus, according to Tammy Palmer’s father, John Pannirello.

“He admitted it, he admitted it to his sister,” Pannirello told FoxNews.com. “He said, ‘I just shot Tammy.’”

Palmer reportedly then told his sister, Elaine Babcock, who could not be reached for comment, to “give [him] an hour to get away” before calling police to report the crime. Babcock told The Journal News she then called 911 and went to Palmer’s home, where police investigators had already found her body.

“He admitted it, he admitted it to his sister. He said, ‘I just shot Tammy.’”

- John Pannirello

Palmer, a retired truck driver and seasoned outdoorsman, is now being sought by police and may be hiding out in the woods near Willow Grove Road or in nearby Harriman State Park, a vast wooded area, police and relatives told FoxNews.com.

“They think he’s up in Harriman, they’re all out looking for him,” Pannirello said. “But he’s a woodsman and he has plenty of guns.”

Police discovered Palmer’s green 1995 Dodge Ram pickup truck on Tuesday afternoon during a search of Harriman State Park. The vehicle was found on a trail about a half-mile from his home, the Times Herald-Record reports. Bloodhounds on loan by Westchester County police then picked up a scent and traveled up steep ridges before growing too tired.

Haverstraw Police Chief Charles Miller told the newspaper that authorities were waiting for a search warrant before entering the vehicle, the newspaper reports.

Babcock, meanwhile, has said her brother, who left money to pay property taxes before fleeing, was caught in the middle of domestic problems between Tammy Palmer and his son, John, who had been estranged after 17 years of marriage.

“She was aggravating the crap out of him, tormenting him,” Babcock told The Journal News. “They were pushing each other’s buttons. One or the other is going to snap. He’s the one that obviously snapped.”

Miller, who did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday, has said Palmer fled in his truck — likely toward the 46,000-acre state park — and has been labeled as possibly armed and dangerous in an arrest bulletin.

Tammy Palmer’s cause of death had not yet been determined of as midday Tuesday, according to the Rockland Medical Examiner’s Office. Calls seeking additional comment from the district attorney’s office were not immediately returned.

Palmer lived with her two children, John, 12, and Rosemarie, 16, in separate homes on the same parcel of land as her father-in-law. She had obtained an order of protection against Palmer’s son, barring him from the property, Pannirello said.

Palmer endured the imperfect living situation to best provide for her children and the family’s dog, her father said.

“She had nowhere else to go,” he said. “It was a mess; it was so bad. Thank god she put the kids on the bus that morning. After that, she went to hang some clothes and he came down with a gun.”

Palmer’s mother, Violet Pannirello, said her daughter suffered through an “abusive” marriage and painfully tried to save the relationship by losing nearly 200 pounds.

“She wasn’t happy for a long, long time,” Violet Pannirello told FoxNews.com. “She had been abused and knocked down by his family.”

Pannirello said her daughter had feared the worst but knew no way out of her living situation.

“She was afraid for her life,” she said. “He was always a very difficult man to get along with. I don’t think any woman was good enough for his son.”