Gail Palmgren disappearance: Six months later
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - In a Walmart parking lot, eight miles from where Gail Nowacki Palmgren was last seen, her siblings launched the search for their sister.
"I know she's going through a lot, she just missed Mother's Day, and it hurts," said Florida resident, Kevin Nowacki, "I need her back."
"If you're out there, please notify us, we just miss you," pleaded Gail's sister, Diane Nichols, in an interview with Channel 3 in May. Nichols traveled from New York to hand out flyers.
Gail had been missing for a week when her disappearance made local headlines, and speculation swirled inside the signal mountain police department.
"I hadn't heard anything about it and I figured if someone had gone missing on Signal Mountain it would have been pretty high news," said Clive Bonnick.
Clive Bonnick, a resident of Signal Mountain, doesn't know Gail Palmgren, but her story gripped him.
"The story was still not really getting out, so I decided they needed someone here to promote the case and spread the word," said Bonnick.
He printed t-shirts, organized prayer vigils and searches. It appeared to Gail's friends her husband, Matthew Palmgren, had moved on.
"It seems like we are the only ones doing anything to help," family friend Maria Gallivan told Channel 3 in May, "I hear from Matt briefly, but I don't know what he is doing, if he is doing something, we don't know what it is, because it's not being shared."
Matthew Palmgren went public 19 days after his wife went missing. He made a brief statement in a press conference called by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office to announce it was joining the search.
"Gail, if you hear us please come forward, Jarret and Lori love you," said Palmgren from the podium, choking up, "please, please show yourself soon."
He stuck close to his attorneys, refusing to field any questions from the media, and has since.
It wasn't until court documents were filed in Hamilton County Chancery Court, we learned of the trouble in the Palmgren marriage.
The family moved to Signal Mountain in 2009, when Matthew Palmgren took a job at Blue Cross, Blue Shied as pharmacy director.
It's there he met Tammy Helton, and friends say Gail suspected an affair.
Signal Mountain Police were called to the Palmgren home on three separate occasions.
On November 17th the couple argued over their missing dog. Gail told her friends her husband broke down a door.
Months later, the two argued over who would drive their Jeep. Then one week later, an officer gave Gail phone numbers for "a safe place to stay".
Instead, she took the couple's two kids, ages nine and twelve, to the family's lake home in Wetumpka, Alabama.
"They were going to tell the kids they were going to get separated," explained Arlene Durham, who lives next door to one of the Palmgren's lake homes and calls Gail Palmgren her best friend.
But the next morning, after speaking to her husband, Gail abruptly decided to make the four hour drive home.
Gail's sister, Diane Nichols, says she called and begged her to call police. but when officers called Gail, she said she was fine.
Matthew Palmgren says his wife returned home that morning, leaving her children home alone.
Susie Button, who lives across the street from the family's Signal Mountain home, may have been the last to see Gail.
"I saw her leaving around 12:15, and I ran up the hill to say hi, because I knew she'd been upset for quite a while, things have been going on at the house," Button explained, "and she just drove away, she never even acknowledge me."
A Marion County woman says she saw Gail driving her maroon Jeep Rubicon on the trails near insurance rock that evening, but police say there is no evidence to support the tip.
They also say Matthew Palmgren and his attorneys, Lee Davis and Bryan Hoss, have been cooperative.
"If there was credible evidence to show us that we would focus on criminal activity here, perhaps we would have moved a quicker on some of these things," said Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond.
Now dispatch traffic has quieted down, so has Gail's family.
Matthew Palmgren filed for custody of the couple's children six days after Gail went missing, along with a restraining order against his missing wife.
In a sworn statement he said his wife suffered from depression and paranoia. He later dropped the motion. Then Gail's siblings took him to court over custody issues.
Since that day, they have not returned Channel 3's calls or granted interviews.
"The more people you talk to, the more you learn, you get little pieces of the timeline and it gets more bizarre," said Susie Button, "and you think what in the world, where could she be?"
Some believe Matthew Palmgren knows where his wife is.
Gail's closest friend has turned over a copy of video evidence to the FBI, she says shows Matthew Palmgren berating his wife at the family's lake home.
"You're a disease, you're poison, you're destroying my career like you did yours," recited Durham when asked what was heard on the tape.
Matthew Palmgren and Tammy Helton have since been fired from Blue Cross, Blue Shield for misuse of company equipment.
The family's Signal Mountain home is up for sale, but legally it can't be sold unless Gail's disappearance is resolved.
"I've seen cases strange enough where you would just swear somebody was dead to foul play and they do turn up, even years later," said Sheriff Hammond, "so you can't discount that."
But the twists and turns keep coming.
Gail was sending money to his sister, prior to her disappearance.
"She was sending me documentation weeks prior," said Durham, "we sat down and figured out what she was going to need to survive six to nine months going through a divorce."
Gail asked a neighbor to hold her will and passport in case something happened to her, and she told several people she thought she was being followed.
Was she preparing to leave on her own, or was Gail Palmgren harmed?
"As every day goes by, evidence is lost, time is lost," said Bonnick.
"I miss my friend, I miss our talks, I miss the laughter," said Durham, choking up, "we had things we were going to do this summer, we didn't get to do them."
With no sign of her jeep, no leads in the case, Gail's family has turned to a center for missing persons to host rally's, plan search parties, and keep Gail's story alive,
Because if there is one thing everyone looking for Gail agrees on, Gail Palmgren would not have left her children. Leaving all to wonder, where is Gail Palmgren?