Most of the people gathered Saturday to release balloons and light candles in memory of missing local Gail Palmgren don’t even know her.
The sun was just beginning to set over Signal Point as about 10 people joined hands to pray for her return.
“I know what it feels like to lose somebody, and I think about what it would be like to lose my wife or my daughter,” resident Don Davis said. “Hopefully they’ll find her.”
The group was concerned not just with keeping up hope for Palmgren’s return, but spreading hope to anyone missing loved ones. They released several balloons strapped with note cards bearing their names and contact information.
The group wanted to see how far the balloons would travel and hope whoever picks them up will contact them.
Palmgren, 44, was last seen April 30. Since then several friends, family and Signal Mountain community members have searched the mountain for any sign of the mother of two, especially her red Jeep Rubicon with plates reading “EAZY ST.”
But the searches weren’t enough for Palmgren’s siblings, who worried for the safety of her two young children.
Palmgren and her husband, Matthew, had serious arguments, and Gail had told friends and family she believed Matthew was having an affair.
Diane Nichols, of Tonawanda, N.Y., and Kevin Nowacki, of Lake Worth, Fla., filed court documents on June 24 asking that the children, ages 12 and 9, be appointed a guardian.
A Hamilton County judge denied the request and the children will stay with their father.
During the hearing, Matthew Palmgren’s attorney said that before her disappearance, Gail Palmgren had given jewelry to a friend for safekeeping. She also gave Nichols a cashier’s check for $17,000.
Matthew Palmgren’s attorney also told the judge Gail Palmgren was mentally unstable before her disappearance and she thought people were following her. The attorney said she asked a couple to look after her children, then later accused the same couple of trying to take the children away.
Regardless, the police investigation into her disappearance presses on. Some were hopeful that Gail Palmgren might be found with the help of surveillance footage that her friend Arlene Durham has in Alabama, where the Palmgrens have a second home. Durham plans to share the footage with police and media this week.
But Clive Bonnick, organizer of the event and leader of several searches for signs of the missing woman, expects little to come of the video.
“I don’t know that they’ll find anything that’s useful to the investigation,” he said.
Still, he said he hopes to keep thoughts of Gail Palmgren alive.
“We’re still missing Gail,” he said.