published Friday, June 24th, 2011

Police search Palmgren house

Hamilton County criminal investigators search inside of Matthew and Gail Palmgren's home in Signal Mountain, Tenn., in this file photo.  Gail has been missing since April 30.
Hamilton County criminal investigators search inside of Matthew and Gail Palmgren's home in Signal Mountain, Tenn., in this file photo. Gail has been missing since April 30.
Photo by Jenna Walker.
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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.

Anyone with information may call investigators at 423-209-8940 or 423-622-0022.


The consent order to search the Palmgrens’ Signal Mountain home included these parameters:

• Mike Mathis, a former Chattanooga Police Department investigator, who has been hired by Palmgren, must be present during the searches.

• Any documents that investigators wish to copy must be copied through Palmgren and his attorneys.

• Testing of trace evidence is allowed as long as it does not damage the property.

• Detectives must get permission to further test items from the house from Palmgren’s attorney and the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office.

• If investigators damage the property, the sheriff’s office must replace the property.

Source: Consent Order


The consent order lists five locations for the search:

• The Palmgren family residence at 40 Ridgerock Drive, Signal Mountain

• 439 Easy St., Wetumpka, Ala.

• 481 Jordan Lake Road, Titus Ala.

• A public storage unit in Red Bank

• Matt Palmgren’s mother’s residence in Chattanooga

Source: Consent Order

Detectives began to search the home of a missing 44-year-old Signal Mountain woman Thursday night after her husband recently granted them permission to search the couple’s properties.

Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and Signal Mountain Police Department investigators entered the residence at 40 Ridgerock Drive in hopes of finding clues of where Gail Palmgren may be.

Palmgren, 44, was last seen April 30. No one has heard from her since.

Janice Atkinson, public information officer for the sheriff’s office, said investigators conducted the search at night so they could use an alternative light source to check for body fluids, such as blood, throughout the residence.

“It will pick up things that can’t be seen with the naked eye,” she said.

Authorities also photographed areas throughout the home, and it’s unclear what other evidence they found. They also searched the grounds leading into the woods near the home.

Gail Palmgren’s husband, Matthew Palmgren, worked with his defense attorneys, Lee Davis and Bryan Hoss, to draft a consent order that would allow detectives to search the home and other properties including a home at Lake Jordan in Alabama. The agreement states Palmgren’s private investigator must be present.

Investigators were not able to obtain search warrants for the properties early on in the investigation because there is no proof that any crime occurred.

Neighbors on Ridgerock Drive said they were thankful the search is finally taking place even if it comes 54 days after Gail Palmgren went missing.

“I don’t know why they didn’t do it sooner,” one man said, who declined to be named.

Neighbors said Palmgren has not allowed the couple’s two children to be allowed outside the home much.

“Some of the neighbors think there was foul play,” the man said. “They can’t see her leaving her two kids.”

Police responded to arguments between the Palmgrens twice a couple of weeks leading up to Gail Palmgren’s disappearance. Matthew Palmgren filed motions in Hamilton County Chancery Court a week after she was gone asking for a legal separation, exclusive use of the couple’s home and custody of the children. He later withdrew the motions June 1.

Palmgren alleged his wife was mentally unstable leading up to her disappearance. Friends and other family members have said other wise.

Palmgren, and another co-worker, were recently fired from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee after the investigation became a distraction at work.

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rolando said...

One thing, at least one of the neighbors has him already convicted of something.

I am a bit surprised someone didn't allege child sexual abuse...then the sheriff could have contacted the Child Protective Services gestapo and had them raid the house -- no warrant needed -- and search it for just about anything.

June 24, 2011 at 8:14 a.m.
rosebud said...

Dear Police Officers: Hey, don't be in any hurry. Take your time. She's only been missing 2 months. Grab another doughnut on your way up the mountain.

June 24, 2011 at 8:36 a.m.

Mr. Palmgren has had plenty of time to remove any evidence from all of the locations within the 2 months time! So...Good Luck finding anything! Seems he is pretty sneaky!

June 24, 2011 at 9:12 a.m.
RulesToBreak said...

I don't understand why he filed for separation and custody after she went missing? Why is that neccessary?

June 24, 2011 at 11:46 a.m.

We may never know what really happened. Way too many loose ends concerning this missing mom. A totally botched investigation from the day she was reported missing. Who suffers...the children.

June 24, 2011 at 12:24 p.m.
spendy said...

The truth always comes out in the end. With that being said, I believe the husband should get life if "evidence" shows he was involved & I think Mrs.Palmgreen should get more than a smack on the hand if/when she is found. I really hope she is found alive. Maybe she has suffered some sort of nervous breakdown like the police woman did that time.

June 24, 2011 at 1:30 p.m.
cc333 said...

Oh: a cop can search Anybody/any car on the road at a roadblock...BUT: a woman is missing for 50ish days & they just now search the home. I am not a pro-surveillance/search 'type' but this is ludicrous.If they had searched earlier & found who knows what that did not pertain to crime(weed or whatever),they wouldn' tbe able to use 'it' against him,right?! 50+ plus days for someone to clean up crime/repaint ,IF they did it.

June 24, 2011 at 5:19 p.m.
rolando said...

There was no indication a crime was committed, cc33. Without that, there is no probable cause on which to issue a warrant. No judge worth his/her salt would dare issue one; that would be a lost cause.

That's why getting the Child Protective folks involved would be the way to go -- no warrant necessary to search, just an allegation -- a phoned-in anonymous tip based on nothing would be -- and has been -- sufficient cause for them to act. Oh, yeah -- anything they find can and durn well will be used in court.

June 24, 2011 at 7:08 p.m.
rolando said...

What if the kids did her in, Higher? Would they then suffer?

C'mon, you criticize the investigation upfront, so what do you think and upon what do you base it?

June 24, 2011 at 7:11 p.m.
rolando said...

Uh, spendy, I hesitate to ask this but since you put "evidence" in quotation marks, what do you mean by that? Something like "the preponderance of evidence" instead of "innocent until proven guilty" or something?

June 24, 2011 at 7:13 p.m.
rolando said...

RulesToBreak: He possibly filed for those to stop her from grabbing the kids, emptying the family accounts, raiding their safe-deposit box, and flying off to Rio with her personal trainer [or something].

June 24, 2011 at 7:18 p.m.
Dreamcatcher said...

RulesToBreak: He may have filed for those to throw off the look of a guilty husband, possilbly! Maybe he wasn't worried, scared or even cared that harm might have come to her. He did withdraw his filings though and that worries me!! Do you think he knows she wont be grabbing the kids and the money and running off with them? hmmm. Hopefully they will get answers.

June 25, 2011 at 10:06 a.m.
McRand said...

Well, she was last seen by a neighbor driving off by herself, and didn't give her usual return wave. Another woman claims she saw her with another woman, and she had that "deer in headlights look", but the other woman with her turned her head away when they passed by two times.

The neighbor to her Alabama A-frame house, who became her friend and confidant, claims she drove to a southern campsite looking for her; a round trip of over a thousand miles in one day. The Jeep was supposedly a rare color of red. Did law enforcement go to the campsite and question anybody? Is the other woman, who is divorced, a manipulator and interloper? Was she the one who brought the division in this marriage in the first place by unwarranted suspicions? Did false accusations cause the man to finally seek comfort in a relationship apart from his wife because of all this so that what he was first falsely accused of became a reality? I've seen what happens when married women start hanging around with divorced ones. It's strange, it seems, that this other woman was so emphatic in controlling the investigation to the point of laying out her scenario in public. Who was the other woman in the red jeep that did not want to be seen? Friends of the family, one an attorney, claimed that she,Palmgren's wife stayed uninvited for a couple of days, and was very unstable.

Who knows anything at this point? Gail could be under care in a place where she does not want to be in contact by her husband or the other woman until she gets her head straightened out. The other woman could be totally innocent and sincerely concerned too as well as Gail's husband.

If I've learned anything in my many decades of age, it's that things aren't always as they appear, and that it's not always wise to jump at our first view of things.

June 25, 2011 at 11:08 a.m.
chet123 said...


June 25, 2011 at 11:53 a.m.
chet123 said...

The first day of gail disappearance I made the staement to keep a close eye on a dysfunctional signal mountain police department... they very much confirmed my accusation of a police department without a clue...this is why federal is necessary people...good ole boy police system....waited a full month before a house search...anyone can sterlize evidence in that amount of time. What a bunch of clowns

June 26, 2011 at 9:14 p.m.
chet123 said...


June 27, 2011 at 5:45 p.m.
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