Matthew Palmgren, co-worker terminated at BlueCross

Matthew Palmgren, co-worker terminated at BlueCross

June 8th, 2011 by Beth Burger in News

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/Times Free Press.

The husband of a missing Signal Mountain woman and a co-worker recently were fired from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee after a search for his wife caused workplace distractions.

BlueCross sent Matthew Palmgren a letter Monday informing him he was fired, said Lee Davis, a defense attorney who is representing him.

The letter, according to Davis, references the disappearance of Palmgren's wife, Gail.

"Obviously, it cites the investigation. We're not going to discuss the details at this point," Davis said.

Palmgren's 44-year-old wife was last seen April 30 when she dropped off the couple's two children at their home, at 40 Ridgerock Drive.

Sources also said that Palmgren's co-worker, Tammy Helton, manager of government product development for BlueCross, was let go for similar reasons. Helton's divorce was finalized in February, and she has a new home in Batesville, Miss., sources said.

Helton, who has been consulting with defense attorney David Barrow, could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon, a source said. She has not returned numerous phone calls since early May.

BlueCross also cited misuse of company equipment and inappropriate email use for letting the employees go, sources said.

Matthew Palmgren, 40, was placed on leave last month from BlueCross, where he worked since July 2009 as director of pharmacy programs for its government business and emerging markets business unit.

He recently withdrew Chancery Court filings dated May 6 in which he attempted to legally separate from his wife and sought custody of their two children.

Before Gail Palmgren disappeared, she gave several hotel invoices to a friend. They show that Matthew Palmgren paid cash for hotel rooms locally at the Double Tree and Hampton Inn. Another hotel invoice places Matthew Palmgren at a hotel in Batesville, Miss., and shows that he also paid cash there.

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 claimed the children's passports are missing.

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

As of Tuesday afternoon, authorities said Palmgren's disappearance remains a missing person case. No evidence of foul play has been reported.

Matthew Palmgren said in an earlier interview that he hired a former Chattanooga Police Department investigator, Matthew Mathis, to find his wife.

"Mr. Palmgren, through our office, is cooperating in every way he can with this investigation to find Gail," Davis said.

Diane Nichols, Gail Palmgren's sister, said the situation has been "tragic" for everyone involved.

"We feel bad about everything that has happened. Our family continues to focus on finding my sister and on the wellbeing of the children," she said. The Palmgrens have a 12-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl.

Gail Palmgren was last seen driving a red 2010 Rubicon Jeep with a tailgate tire cover that reads "Life is Good" and with a daisy painted on it. She also had a personalized Alabama tag - "EAZY ST." The couple owns a home near Titus, Ala., on Lake Jordan.

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

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