June 3, 1996

Rob Lamberti

'Zombie' stared as cops neared

HALIFAX - A Metro triple-murder suspect stared "like a zombie" into a cop's face during a dramatic weekend arrest on the Halifax waterfront.

Matt Kerrigan, 52, and his wife Marie watched as at least five uniformed officers searched and handcuffed a dazed-looking Marcello Palma just before 7 p.m. Saturday.

Halifax Police, acting on a tip from Metro homicide detectives, had raided Palma's second-floor room at the Sheraton Hotel at about 3 p.m., but it was empty.

They found Palma behind the Oceans and Fisheries Canada building by the shoreline and arrested him without incident.

The Halifax couple were taking an evening stroll along a sightseeing boardwalk when they saw two tense officers approach a casually dressed man carrying a plastic shopping bag, apparently filled with clothing, from a shopping mall.

'Very ordinary'

The man was wearing a short-sleeved sports shirt and pants.

The couple didn't know it was Palma until they saw his photograph in a local newspaper yesterday.

Kerrigan said the man looked "very ordinary," and wouldn't stand out in a crowd.

"But he was pretty out of it," said Kerrigan. "He did stop (when ordered by police) but he showed no emotion at all.

"He was looking square into the face of the officer and not responding to him," he said. "They said, 'What is your name, sir? Sir, what is your name?'

"I think there was no question as to who he was," said Kerrigan.

He said the man stood passively as two officers arrested and searched him, then two other officers arrived and he was put into a cruiser, which took him to the Halifax police station.

"When they told him to put his hands up, he did," said Kerrigan. "When they asked him to surrender the bag, he gave up the shopping bag, but he did everything like a zombie."

He said an officer who searched Palma appeared nervous.

"We thought it was a drug thing," Kerrigan said.

"Because he was so passive, we thought he was stoned."

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Created: November 13, 1996
Last modified: November 18, 1996

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