Missing woman's husband seeks custody of children

Missing woman's husband seeks custody of children

May 12th, 2011 by Beth Burger in News

Gail Nowacki Palmgren

A Chancery Court judge will rule in a case Friday where the husband of a missing woman is seeking temporary custody of their two children and exclusive use of their Signal Mountain home, according to court documents.

In the meantime, friends and relatives of 44-year-old Gail Nowacki Palmgren continue to plaster the area with missing-person fliers in hopes of learning her whereabouts.

Her husband, Matthew Palmgren, 40, filed the paperwork May 6 in court. He reported his wife missing to police on May 2 after he was urged by her family, according to Signal Mountain Police Department reports.

No one has heard from or seen Gail Palmgren since April 30.

Matthew Palmgren told police his wife left their children, ages 9 and 12, alone at their home at 40 Ridge-rock Drive on that date. Her Jeep also is missing.

Police had been called to their home April 29 and a week earlier, on April 22, in response to their arguments, reports show.

On April 29, police gave Gail Palmgren the phone number of a safe place to stay, and she then took the children to Alabama to stay at a lake house for the night.

Matthew Palmgren stated he would stay at the couple's Signal Mountain residence, according to police reports.

Arlene Durham, a family friend who lives at Lake Jordan in Titus, Ala., said she saw Gail Palmgren and the children the night of April 29.

"She was very upset and very worried. You could tell something was the matter," she said. "She wouldn't talk because the kids were here."

The April 22 call came after an argument in the car. Gail Palmgren told police her husband wanted to take a boat down to the lake house and she wanted them to go to Alabama as a family.

Matthew Palmgren told police he needed the Jeep to haul the boat and his wife got mad and decided to hide the key. So he got out and began walking home, according to the report.

Asked about the boat, Durham replied, "That's full of crap."

"That boat's already down here. That boat hasn't left the lake in three years that I know of," she said.

Durham, who spoke to Gail Palmgren almost daily, said Matthew Palmgren emotionally abused his wife. She suspected physical abuse also took place.

On the weekend of April 10, her friend had a black eye.

She said, "Oh, I ran into something," Durham remembers.

A police report also documents an argument Nov. 17.

The report said they argued over a missing dog and after she got a vehicle stuck on the side of the road. She took the children and stayed at another home, according to the police report.

Instability argued

In court documents, Matthew Palmgren paints a picture of an unstable woman. Palmgren and his wife both hold doctorates in pharmacy.

He stated his wife was suffering from severe mental illness after she lost her job at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in June 2010.

He said she was prescribed numerous antidepressants, according to court records.

Durham disagreed.

"I don't think she was depressed. She was too outgoing. She loved life. She loved the outdoors and being with her kids," she said.

Mathew Palmgren alleges his wife became paranoid recently and would write down license plate numbers to try to identify drivers because she believed people were following her, according to court records.

She also accused her husband of breaking into her car because she found a used Band-Aid and the radio station was changed, the court records state.

Palmgren said he received a mail change of address form dated April 30 for his wife and mail from a bank account stating that personal identification numbers were changed for three accounts containing about $420,000.

He did not respond to interview requests Wednesday.

Gail Palmgren was last seen driving a red Jeep with a Life is Good daisy tire cover and personalized Alabama tag reading, "EAZY ST". She is 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighs 135 pounds and has blonde hair and brown eyes.

"She's a wonderful mother," said Susie Button, who lives across the street from the Palmgren family and has missing person fliers taped to the back of her minivan. "Something must have scared her. She wouldn't just up and leave. We just hope somebody will call."

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