Bones found in New York park belong to animal, not murder suspect, police say

This undated photo, provided by the Haverstraw Police Department, shows 73-year-old Eugene Palmer.

This undated photo, provided by the Haverstraw Police Department, shows 73-year-old Eugene Palmer.

Bones found in a vast New York wilderness by the son of a murder suspect were from an animal, and not the 73-year-old fugitive who authorities believe could still be on the lam more than a year after allegedly killing his daughter-in-law, police said.

Clarence Palmer, son of suspect Eugene Palmer, claims he was led to the bones inside Harriman State Park by a psychic last week, according to local reports. The younger Palmer insists his ailing father died in the 44,000-acre park sometime after the Sept. 24, 2012, shooting death of his daughter-in-law, Tammy Palmer. But the bones won't prove his case, said Lt. Martin Lund of the Haverstraw Police Department.

"Our hunch is that he has either succumbed to his health conditions that had plagued him leading up to the incident that occurred, or he is out of the park and is some place else," said Lund.

Palmer, of Stony Point, N.Y., waited for his 39-year-old daughter-in-law to place her two children on a school bus before shooting her three times with a bolt action shotgun as she walked up the driveway toward her home, police said.

Palmer, a retired part-time park ranger, then fled into Harriman State Park -- a vast stretch of woodland filled with caves, root cellars and abandoned mine shafts that borders the man's home, according to police.

While Palmer's sons claim their father -- a severe diabetic -- died in the woods, authorities have not ruled out the possibility that he is alive and no longer in the park.

"This was a homicide," Lund said. "And the investigation is still open."

Authorities said Palmer drove to his niece's home shortly after the alleged killing and confessed to the crime. He also left money with his sister to pay his taxes and told the woman to give him an hour before contacting authorities, according to police.

Hours after the shooting, police found Palmer's abandoned pickup truck on an old fire road about a quarter mile into the park. An extensive manhunt ensued, using air and foot patrols as well as bloodhounds. A "hit" was detected by one of the dogs, leading police to a campsite within the park, but it remains unclear whether the scent belonged to Palmer.

The Haverstraw Police Department also requested assistance from state and federal law enforcement, including the FBI. They found no conclusive evidence of Palmer in the park, other than his truck parked deep into the woods.

Police say Palmer became increasingly enraged over "domestic issues" between Tammy and her estranged husband, Eugene's son, John. Tammy Palmer had reportedly filed an order of protection against her husband, meaning John could not step foot on the 3 1/2 acres of land where both Tammy and Eugene lived in homes close to each another.

Cristina Corbin is a Fox News reporter based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @CristinaCorbin.