published Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Missing Signal Mountain woman's husband Matthew Palmgren dismisses custody motions

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.

The husband of a missing Signal Mountain woman filed court papers Wednesday to withdraw his attempt to legally separate from his wife.

Matthew Palmgren also withdrew motions seeking temporary custody of their two children and exclusive use of their Signal Mountain home, according to Hamilton County Chancery Court documents.

No one has seen or heard from Palmgren’s wife, 44-year-old Gail Nowacki Palmgren, since April 30. Matthew Palmgren, 40, filed the motions in court May 6.

“The case can be refiled at pretty much any point in the future,” said Bryan Hoss, attorney for Matthew Palmgren. “Nobody loses anything because it’s voluntary.”

Hoss said the motions were necessary initially because his client wanted to make sure the children, ages 9 and 12, completed their school year.

“The fear before was she could appear and take the kids out of school,” Hoss said. “If and when she does reappear, it’s one of those things we can refile and get in front of the same judge rather quickly.”

In court records, Matthew Palmgren said his wife had access to hundreds of thousands of dollars in their accounts and was suffering from severe mental illness. He also said the children’s passports were missing.

Records show Signal Mountain police were called to the couple’s home to deal with loud arguments in the days and weeks leading up to Gail Palmgren’s disappearance.

Matthew Palmgren has hired a former Chattanooga Police Department investigator to find his wife.

“He’s doing everything he knows to do,” Hoss said.

Matthew Palmgren was placed on leave last month from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, where he works as the director of pharmacy programs for its government business and emerging markets business unit.

He is still on leave, Hoss said Wednesday.

In the meantime, friends and relatives have plastered the area with 20,000 missing-person fliers in hopes of learning Gail Palmgren’s whereabouts.

“It’s been tough. We just want to hear from her,” said Diane Nichols, Gail Palmgren’s sister, who stayed nearly a month in Signal Mountain before returning to her home out of state. “Not knowing just drives you crazy.”

Gail Palmgren was last seen driving a red 2010 Rubicon Jeep with a tailgate tire cover that said “Life is Easy” and had a daisy painted on it. She also had a personalized Alabama tag — “EAZY ST.”

She is 5 feet 8, weighs 135 pounds and has blonde hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with any information can contact Signal Mountain Police Department at 423-886-2124.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@times freepress.com or 423-757-6406.

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