published Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Chattanooga: Missing woman’s siblings file restraining order against husband

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 crimson-red Rubicon Jeep with a back tire cover that says "Life is Good" in the shape of a daisy and a personalized Alabama tag reading, "EAZY ST." She is 5 feet 8, weighs 135 pounds and has blond hair and brown eyes. Anyone with any information can contact Signal Mountain Police Department at 423-886-2124.

The brother and sister of a missing Signal Mountain woman have asked a local court to prevent her husband from moving their two children out of state.

The restraining order filed by Kevin Nowacki and Diane Nowacki Nichols, siblings of the missing Gail Palmgren, 44, also asks the court to appoint a legal guardian for the children.

The order was filed Friday against Matthew Palmgren in Hamilton County Chancery Court. Chancellor Frank Brown III is scheduled to hear from the attorneys on July 11.

Gail Nowacki Palmgren was last seen April 30.

The order asks the court to restrict Matthew Palmgren from moving the children out of Tennessee and no farther than 100 miles from their Signal Mountain home.

The filing also asks that Matthew Palmgren set up counseling for the couple’s 12-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter and not make “disparaging remarks about Mrs. Palmgren to or in the presence of” the children.

Nowacki, a Lake Worth, Fla., resident and Nichols, a Tonawanda, N.Y., resident, also ask the judge to appoint a legal guardian for the children other than their father and allow visitation with Gail Palmgren’s family.

“[We] believe it is in the children’s best interest to have visitation with their mother’s family pending her return,” according to documents.

The documents also state that Palmgren had shut off power to a lake home in Elmore County, Ala., and asked the court to keep him from damaging or selling any property that the couple share or that Gail Palmgren owns independently.

Hamilton County sheriff’s deputies searched the couple’s 40 Ridgerock Drive home Thursday for clues related to her disappearance. Matthew Palmgren consented to the search with the help of his attorneys, Lee Davis and Bryan Hoss.

Efforts to reach Davis and Hoss were unsuccessful Monday.

Shortly after his wife was last seen, Matthew Palmgren filed for legal separation in Chancery Court, custody of the children and exclusive use of the couple’s home shortly after she was last seen. He withdrew those requests on June 1.

Matthew Palmgren and another co-worker recently were fired from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee after the investigation became a work distraction, according to Times Free Press archives.

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfree or 423-757-6347.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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inquiringmind said...

No evidence suggesting foul play by husband but aunts and uncles are trying to run his children's lives and control how he deals with assets? Sounds as if htere is foul play then we have to rely on the Signal Mt police to solve it

June 28, 2011 at 8:23 a.m.
Astropig said...

Enough with these meddling jerks from Upstate NY.

The fact is, this guy has not been charged with any crime. From reports in this newspaper,he has cooperated with authorities at every turn. There is no evidence at this point that he has done anything that would warrant the removal of his kids from his care.As for the request for that he not damage property- That just looks like vultures claiming a carcass. He has more rights to that property than they ever will have.

I believe that it is a grave injustice for the family of this woman to tar this guy the way they have absent any conclusive proof that he has done anything wrong.

The fact is, we don't know if there has been foul play here. Indeed,we don't know much at all.Therein lies the problem: In an information vacuum,rumors,distortions and shreds of half truth fill the void that is left by lack of facts.

Let the police do their jobs. If he is implicated,let justice (not revenge) take its course. But I am very uncomfortable with throwing a rope over a tree limb before we know just who to hang.

June 28, 2011 at 9:32 a.m.
valleyreader said...

inquiringmind, I see no assertions of foul play stated for these actions by family members. What I do see is a family taking steps to provide for the childrens over-all well-being, financially and on a family level. Counseling? By all means! Due to the recent events it would be irresponsible to NOT provide these children with proffesional, ongoing counseling to deal with the recent events which have occured with this family. I see a concerned family stepping up to preserve the best interests, family ties and assets (shared or individual), of a woman who is MISSING, has not yet been located, and who is unavailable or unable to represent herself. It is a no-brainer that these things should already have occured. However, access to the children has been denied to family and counseling should have been provided from the onset...these are two young children who have had their life dramatically impacted. How would you expect them to cope? These circumstances will FOREVER change the way this little persons approach life, a life that was turned upside-down on 4/30/2011. As for controlling Mr. Palmgren's life and assets (and the individual assets of Gail Palmgren), that's life. It would, of course be easier for him to go forward with HIS life if there were answers or resolution to his wife's dissapearance. Until that time, and considering the time frame of "only" two months since she went missing, I think a lot of people would agree that liquidating assets in a manner similar to liquidating assets in an estate could be considered inappropriate and uncouth. The circumstances are terribly unfortunate for all involved. Locating this woman will be the first step to regaining a normal life for her children, family and husband. Perhaps the situation would be different now had Mr. Palmgren been more expedient when his wife went missing, welcomed the assistance of family and loving friends instead of retreating beind locked doors, or had taken a more active, involved and thorough interest in locating his wife, the mother of his children from the onset. Despite any marital discord, they ARE still married, she IS still his wife and deserves the RESPECT as such. It should not take a court order for him to do/not do what is requested by the family, any decent human-being would have already provided what is being asked for by the family until Gail Palmgren is located. ...sorry so long.

June 28, 2011 at 10:06 a.m.
VoiceOfTruth said...

To begin with, obviously 'inquiringmind' and 'astropig' are men who probably thinks a cheating husband has every right to do whatever he wants once the wife comes up missing. If my sister disappeared and her husband waited two days before notifying anyone, and the police had been called to her home for domestic abuse allegations, and he was cheating on her with a co-worker - then not only would I be seeking court protection for her assets, but also for the children. If it had been my husband who went missing, I'd gladly allow the police and anyone else into my home, onto my property, etc., to search - hoping they could find something to lead to his whereabouts. There is no way I believe Gail left on her own and has stayed away on her own. I hope Lee and Bryan don't end up ruining their good reputation by representing this man.

June 28, 2011 at 10:34 a.m.
eastridge8 said...

Amen Valleyreader and Voiceoftruth....I'm with you. He is moving WAY too fast. He has shown absolutely NO concern for finding his wife. He was FORCED into allowing police to search all of the houses and properties and NOW he want to MOVE?? Take the children away from the last home they shared with their mother? She's been gone 2 months and he's ready to move on? What's with this guy? I don't blame the sister and brother for doing this. This guy's actions surely make him look guilty of something or just plain stupid. Which, I don't know.(Both, I suspect.) All I can say is..."The mistress can wait NITWIT! Your children need you a whole lot more than she does!! And you need to show more concern about finding your WIFE and their MOTHER and what has happened to her for your kids sake if for nothing else!"

And astropig and would it look if YOUR spouse died or disappeared and 2 months later you wanted to move out of state with your kids and cut off all family ties? Don't you think HER/HIS family would think that a little strange? I know I would.

June 28, 2011 at 10:43 a.m.
abcdefghi said...

"Astropig"...what a perfect name.

June 28, 2011 at 11:06 a.m.
rolando said...

Well...this guy has been pilloried, whipped, dipped in hot pitch and feathers, fired from his job in these hard times, and otherwise hung out to dry by those making assumptions and presumptions of guilt based on absolutely nothing but fetid breath whispering innuendo in their ear.

Yeah, let's give the money-grubbing shrinks a chance at the kids...who haven't seen anything until those doctors-in-search-of-a-science get their greedy hooks into about twisted when they get loose...whoo-ee.

Same thing for the woman's "siblings"...who are apparently seeing dollar-signs and consider that a suitable substitute for fatherly care. Not that they are biased, or anything. Yeah, right.

Personally, I think she took off for better times/places...hopefully accompanied by her personal trainer [or someone]. Good for her.

June 28, 2011 at 11:07 a.m.
rolando said...

BTW, there is no one, absolutely no one I will allow to search my house for any purpose whatsoever -- not without a duly signed search warrant specifically identifying the item[s] to be seized. Even then, no searching for an elephant in a desk drawer [that's a metaphor].

Hiding something? Not particularly...that's just one of the things the constitution prohibits them from doing to me.

June 28, 2011 at 11:13 a.m.
rolando said...


June 28, 2011 at 11:15 a.m.
thinkaboutitt said...

Any one of us could turn up missing at any time. More likely to happen to females. Most of us would move heaven and earth to find a loved one. Wouldn't you want people to continue the search for YOU and pursue every possible avenue?

Wondering if the husband has provided any funds for the reward...

June 28, 2011 at 11:17 a.m.
valleyreader said...

thinkaboutitt, spot on 100%! In fact, there is something seriously wrong with someone who would not move heaven and earth to find a loved one.

Oh, and you can see who has been participating in the reward fund at the donation page.

No, I am unable to see contribution from the husband.

June 28, 2011 at 11:30 a.m.
eastridge8 said...

He'd done nothing to help find his wife...until his lawyers advised him to do otherwise because it really looked bad when he wasn't cooperating. I still say he's hiding something much more damaging....

June 28, 2011 at 11:44 a.m.
rolando said...

wildman -- So who was the "domestic altercationee" and who instigated it? Evidently Tennessee/Signal doesn't have a requirement that someone must be arrested anytime they respond to such a call.

If she was the victim, she had several options - among them; file a restraining order, divorce, or get up and leave. What if she chose the latter...and he presumed as much.

Waiting a day or two to report such a disappearance is not unusual. How long a period do the police require before accepting a missing person report? Two hours? Four? Twelve? Twenty-four? Or perhaps 2 days...

Did he report any clothes missing during the initial police investigation? How often had she "disappeared" in the past? Did the police have a record? What evidence existed that a crime had been committed?

Evidently the police could not find a judge willing to issue on that scanty information.

June 28, 2011 at 12:10 p.m.
rolando said...

Perhaps, eastridge8, he wasn't surprised she took off and didn't care if she returned or not. Who knows how long this had been a topic of discussion between them?

If he had been obstructing justice by not cooperating with the police, he would have been arrested for that.

It appears all he did was listen to his any knowledgeable, informed person with a lick of sense and a bit of legal experience would do...that's why one hires them.

June 28, 2011 at 12:16 p.m.
spendy said...

Here you have a case with a missing woman with a MENTAL illness who had just found out her husband has had a lover on the side. Who was the other woman in the jeep with her? What secret was she keeping? Nuff said....

June 28, 2011 at 12:23 p.m.
eastridge8 said...

I still don't think she'd just up and leave her kids like that...not for this long time

Something really bad must have happened...and I don't mean finding out about mistress....she already suspected him for that so that was no surprise.

IMHO if she is alive she would have come forward by now. If she is alive she would be aware of all of the searches that have gone on for her and the worries that HER family has and I think she would make herself known...I think she hasn't because she can't.

June 28, 2011 at 12:25 p.m.
RulesToBreak said...

This sounds more suspicious by the day.

June 28, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.
Momus said...

Why is this still in the news?

June 28, 2011 at 12:46 p.m.

Rolando, he (and his mistress) were fired because of their "non-work related" emails (interpret this how you see fit). We don't know if he had something to do with his wife's disappearance for sure, but what woman would leave her children? It seems pretty convenient timing that she disappears after she learns of the affair. I can just imagine how much money he stood to lose in alimony and child support in the subsequent divorce she was planning. Can we say 'motive'?

June 28, 2011 at 12:46 p.m.
rolando said...

Cashing -- Cougars on the prowl will do a lot of things, including leaving their kids with their father while she leaves with her trophy boyfriend [or whatever]. She is an attractive woman, truth be told.

What indications do you have that she was a woman who would not "leave her children" if something much better came along?

There are innumerable scenarios to cover her disappearance, not all of them bad...or good.

So now she was planning a divorce? Where did that bit of info come from? Maybe she got tired of him hanging around the house all the time, without a job, doing nothing but alphabetizing the spices, etc., and just left.

June 28, 2011 at 1:18 p.m.

her siblings said that in another article on a - after she found out about his affair she left them invoices from his hotel excursions and other proof so that she could file for divorce.

I am curious why are you so quick to play devil's advocate for this cheating douchebag? If I caught my husband cheating, I would be nailing him to the wall. I wouldn't leave my kids with him to go galavanting with some boy-toy or whatever... Your suggestions make no sense.

June 28, 2011 at 1:44 p.m.

I couldn't find the source for that info but here is another article where she left her passport and cash with a neighbor before she disappeared.

June 28, 2011 at 2:05 p.m.
inquiringmind said...

it isn't the first time a spouse has cheated and will not be the last. None of you have any information that he is guilty of anything than being an apparent jerk, and we know nothing about his wife's behavior. Furthermore, he is the children's father and has every right at this time to manage the assets, there is no evidence he has done anything wrong, and he as the parent has every right to determine what to do for their welfare. Perhaps you would like to give me responsibiility for your money and children to be sure they are being tasked care of the right way (as I see it, not you) eastride8 and voice of truth, cashingreality checks..or better yet, lets just lynch him first and wait for proof. The worst place to be is between squabbling spouses, you never know who is lying and what is truth. Usually one or both will say or do anthing to torpedo the other. Perhaps following your logic, in a divorce situation we should take the children away from both parents and institutionalize them until the truth is established...

June 28, 2011 at 2:16 p.m.

I never said anything about how he's handling his money, assets, or children. It's irrelevant to Gail being missing. I don't know these people, and yes there are countless cases of mothers abandoning their children (or worse) but in this particular instance that argument just doesn't hold water given the circumstances leading up to her disappearance. I still hope she is ok

June 28, 2011 at 2:51 p.m.
valleyreader said...

Rolando, Regardless of how or why Gail has not yet been located, the point many are trying to make is not that the investigation should have begun by accusing the husband. But, that as part of HER being missing, HER home, documents, notes, records, should have been made readily available in order for the investigators to objectively determine which direction to proceed. Interviews with family members, friends, reviewing items or information they could make available can also be very detrimental to a missing persons case.

Initially yes, the length of time before a report was made is disturbing. Why is she not home now? Why is she not tucking in her children? Why is she not here to pursue the divorce she was so adamantly preparing for before she disappeared? Why has she never attempted to retrieve personal, family items left with friends for safe-keeping as part of her attempt to exit the relationship? Why has she never attempted to access any funds, marital funds or her own personal retirement funds which could be readily accessed if she where inclined to anywhere via wire transfer on PC, except to change her personal access code prior which limited the access of these funds to her and her alone? She had no cash or DL when she disappeared.

She had sufficient assets and resources IN PLACE with which to start-over if she so chose, none of them have been utilized. Does it look like she has disappeared of her own accord? Why has she or her vehicle not been located? Time will tell.

Just think about what she would have retained in terms of property, family, friends and financially if she had not disappeared, what she does not have now? Everyone is quick to make assumptions and opinions. It is up to the HCSO to sort out the facts surrounding her disappearance and take appropriate action as they feel necessary.

Also, a clarification for those who may not have been following this disappearance from the beginning, she would not have left because she was tire of him not working and being home all day. He was not terminated until after she disappeared, as reported by several media outlets within the first week of June.

Hats-off to her siblings for undertaking this challenging responsibility, for stepping up for each other, that is after all, what families should do.

Who knows, once this is all resolved, perhaps her husband will look back on all of this with a different perspective, a clear head, and be thankful that the there was always family ready to help and protect the children when he maybe was not in the position to deal with all of the complications. Maybe he should be grateful that her siblings can be counted on while he is himself, no doubt making several adjustments of his own.

Any information regarding Gails disappearance, or that of her Jeep Rubicon should be directed to the HCSO at 423.622.0022 or

June 28, 2011 at 3:29 p.m.
thinkaboutitt said...

Many people might describe their spouses as "crazy" or "mentally ill." Who diagnosed Gail? Matt? A mental health professional? Has he undergone a psychiatric evaluation as well? His behavior indicates that he certainly has issues. Unfortunately Gail is not here to defend her good name. I feel very sorry for her young, innocent children, and fear for their mental and physical health while in their father's presence.

June 28, 2011 at 4:01 p.m.
sangaree said...

@"There is no evidence at this point that he has done anything that would warrant the removal of his kids from his care"

There was no significant proof that foul play happened in the Theresa Parker's disappearance either. That is, until her remains were actually found.

June 28, 2011 at 6:22 p.m.
rolando said...

Cashing -- First of all, I am neither defending this guy nor making excuses for him. Personally, I think he did her in...and statistics support my position. [More on that in a bit].

You miss the point of my posts -- there is no victim and no perpetrator, thus far. There is NO indication whatsoever that a crime has been committed. Yet many here [expressing their opinions] seem convinced he killed her, seemingly based on he said-she said rumor and sketchy reports subject to interpretation.

Crime stats profiling indicates [random and/or gang shootings aside} a 70-75% probability that the victim of a homicide was killed by the spouse, ex-spouse, boy/girlfriend, ex-boy/girl friend, or other person well known by the victim. But there is always that 25% remaining.

All of that last presumes she is dead, of course, and that is far from fact, established or not.

June 28, 2011 at 6:50 p.m.
rolando said...

"...until her remains were actually found."

Yeah, sangaree, that's right. And that's when the law stepped in...which is EXACTLY how it is supposed to work.

June 28, 2011 at 6:53 p.m.
rolando said...

wildman - The police were called 3 times in 5 months for "verbal disorder" aka non-physical argument. The first time, she left the home; the second time, he left; the 3rd time [the day before she disappeared] she left again, then called the cops.

Now why would she drop her personal belongings off with friends/neighbors? She had the car, after all. What would dropping the off accomplish? Why did she change the family account pin numbers?

BTW, he lost his job a week or two after she disappeared.

June 28, 2011 at 7:03 p.m.
Momus said...

MWWS! Way to feed the stereotype TFP.

June 28, 2011 at 9:20 p.m.
sangaree said...

rolando said... "...until her remains were actually found."

Yeah, sangaree, that's right. And that's when the law stepped in...which is EXACTLY how it is supposed to work.

Tell me you're not serious, right? Are you suggesting the only time the law is suppose to step in is when a body is actually found? Seriously now, you couldn't possibly believe that, right? hmmmmmmm

June 28, 2011 at 9:32 p.m.
NoMyth said...

I'm with VoiceOfTruth and eastridge8. Signal Mountain police are not capable of investigating this woman's disappearance. Anyway, it is not looking good for Mr. Palmgren. His wife gave the hotel receipts that he found (from her husband's affairs) to a friend..the only thing that could have prompted her to do that would have been fear for her well-being. Also, BlueCross BlueShield is to blame...for grossly overpaying people and providing cushy jobs (in exchange for financially raping their fellow countrymen). BlueCross BlueShield has created a work environment where one does not have to work hard and has plenty of time to flirt at the water cooler and pursue affairs.

June 28, 2011 at 9:37 p.m.
hcirehttae said...

Also, BlueCross BlueShield is to blame...for grossly overpaying people and providing cushy jobs (in exchange for financially raping their fellow countrymen). BlueCross BlueShield has created a work environment where one does not have to work hard and has plenty of time to flirt at the water cooler and pursue affairs.

Amen! Can I get a witness!

June 28, 2011 at 10:10 p.m.
rolando said...

sangaree said, "Are you suggesting the only time the law is suppose to step in is when a body is actually found?"

Ridiculous statement, that. It excludes all crimes not a homicide.

The law reacts when evidence of a crime has been found. It is that simple; it is reactive in nature.

BTW, why are you shouting at me? I am capable of reading your posts without all the dramatics of oversized, bolded print...unless it is your way of attracting attention to an otherwise pablum-loaded red-herring posting.

June 29, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
rolando said...

"Also, BlueCross BlueShield is to blame..."

Now there is a false leap of logic...a real reach. Maybe it's Dear Leader's fault too, ya think?

June 29, 2011 at 6:08 a.m.
eastridge8 said...

All we are saying is ...IT LOOKS VERY SUSPICOUS WHEN POLICE ARE CALLED TO A HOME 3 TIMES FOR DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE AND THEN THE WIFE DISAPPEARS AND NEVER COMES BACK...leaving 2 minor children alone with a "just-caught cheater of a husband"...I agree with everyone on here who said she had grounds for a divorce and made those grounds aware to others...and then disappears? Makes no sense to me. HE HAD EVERYTHING TO LOSE IF SHE FILES...MONEY, JOB, MISTRESS, HAVING TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT...and now that she's DISAPPEARED with no trace...JAIL!!!

Sam Parker said he didn't do it either and that she'd "run off with a guy named Elvis she'd met in Mexico" ...until they found Theresa...DEAD!

June 29, 2011 at 9:29 a.m.
eastridge8 said...

Also I worked 18 yrs for an Insurance co. and I saw first-hand, up-close and personal all of the "flings and affairs" that went on...saw a couple of divorces too because of it....AND one guy losing his job after divorcing his wife and child for a co-worker!!!! It happens...and whoever said ..."Insurance cos. pay too much and give these things the opportunity to happen"...or words to that right....

June 29, 2011 at 9:38 a.m.

Just citing the link to the where i found that info about the hotel rcpts. It was TFP not wrcb

June 29, 2011 at 2:08 p.m.
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