published Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Palmgren case: Husband of missing woman defends his parental rights

Matthew Palmgren speaks at a brief news conference concerning his missing wife, Gail, at the Signal Mountain Recreation Department in Signal Mountain.
Matthew Palmgren speaks at a brief news conference concerning his missing wife, Gail, at the Signal Mountain Recreation Department in Signal Mountain.
Photo by Jenna Walker /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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Gail Palmgren was last seen driving a red 2010 Rubicon Jeep with a rear tire cover that reads "Life is Good" and with a daisy painted on it. She also had a person-alized Alabama tag -- "EAZY ST."

Palmgren is 5 feet 8, weighs 135 pounds and has blond hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information on Gail Palmgren's whereabouts is asked to call the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office at 423-209-8940.

Attorneys for a Signal Mountain man whose wife has been missing for three months say there is no reason he should be prevented from moving the couple's two children out of state if he wants.

Gail Palmgren, 44, has not been seen since April 30. She last was seen dropping off her children at the couple's residence at 40 Ridgerock Drive.

Lee Davis, an attorney representing her husband, Matthew Palmgren, filed a response to a Hamilton County Chancery Court order from Gail Palmgren's siblings, Kevin Nowacki and Diane Nichols, who wanted the court to tell Matthew Palmgren to keep the two children in Tennessee.

"In the abundance of caution, we're going to answer the complaint even though I don't believe there's any merit to it," Davis said. "From our position, Mr. Palmgren is appropriately caring for his children. For an aunt or uncle, no matter how well intentioned, it's not for them to tell him what's in the best interest of his children."

The order also included requests that Matthew Palmgren not be allowed to not make any financial changes to the couple's assets, including property and insurance policies, and appoint someone to represent the children in legal matters since they are minors.

Chancellor Frank Brown dissolved the siblings' order and transferred the case to Chancellor Jeff Atherton's courtroom last month.

Davis had 30 days to respond the the order. His response was made within the deadline.

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office investigators said there is no evidence of foul play in Gail Palmgren's disappearance. Investigators are expected to travel to Alabama this week to do a consent search at the couple's properties on Lake Jordan.

"Certainly the case is still pending. We don't have any plans to dismiss the case," said Theresa Light Critchfield, an attorney representing the siblings with the law firm Chambliss Bahner & Stophel.

She did not comment on what action may come next.

Contact Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreeopress.com or 423-757-6406.

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