Controversy over Palmgren reward fund - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Controversy over Palmgren reward fund

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) --  Channel 3's investigation into the Gail Palmgren case continues with a look at what happens next.

Her jeep Rubicon fell 350 feet down East Brow Road and landed about 300 feet from the W Road.

We also know the boulder her Rubicon reportedly hit before plunging weighed about 435 pounds.

Police say the impact was three times the force it would take to kill someone in a crash.

Palmgren's remains and the jeep are being analyzed and very little information came out Tuesday.

Channel 3 wanted to know about the reward fund set up after her disappearance established to help bring her home.

So far people have contributed nearly $2,000 to the fund. 

Many of Palmgren's friends say the money rightfully belongs to the CUE Center For Missing Persons, the non-profit group whose equipment located Palmgren's jeep.

Clive Bonnick, the supporter who started the fund, says he hasn't decided yet where the money will go and many believe it isn't his decision to make.

About the time Gail Palmgren's story hit the news so did Clive Bonnick.

"The story was still really not getting out," Bonnick told Channel 3 in October.  "So I decided they needed somebody here the try and promote the case."

Bonnick is a long time Signal Mountain resident who never knew Gail Palmgren, but says her story moved him.  Soon after her disappearance Bonnick became involved in the efforts to find her.  He began printing t-shirts, organizing prayer vigils, searches and started a reward fund.

Now that Palmgren and the jeep have been found many of her friends are starting to question Bonnick's intentions.

"The reward fund is in question because I don't think Clive needs to make a decision about where the money goes," says Palmgren's best friend, Arlene Durham.

Durham along with Palmgren's brother and sister were instrumental in getting Monica Caison with the CUE Center For Missing Person's involved in search efforts.

"Monica found Gail," Durham says.  "If it weren't for her special equipment we wouldn't have found her."   

Durham and other 'Bring Gail Home' supporters believe the reward money rightfully belongs to CUE.  

"We're all in agreement on the CUE money and where it needs to go," Durham says.   

Bonnick declined to go on camera for this story.  Via his Facebook reward page he said, "the aim of the fund is to provide financial incentive for persons who may have knowledge of Gail's whereabouts."

Bonnick says the Facebook page clearly stated: "If the fund is not claimed during the search the balance will either be paid into a charity or given to another missing persons case."

Tuesday when asked which charity or case he would choose, Bonnick says he's not sure yet.  He says he'll make that decision once Palmgren's memorial service and criminal investigation are over.

But Arlene Durham says there's no reason to wait and it's not Bonnick's decision to make.

"They want the money to go to CUE," she says.

Bonnick did give Channel 3 a bank statement showing the $1,862.02 is accounted for and says he is considering giving the money to CUE.

An attorney says it's a gray area and if Bonnick doesn't use the money for the original purpose it could result in civil or criminal fraud.

Read More: Continuing Coverage: The Gail Palmgren Disappearance

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