Matthew Palmgren, who lost his job at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee after his wife, Gail Palmgren, went missing on April 30, has not filed any court papers that would enable him legally to sell the property, legal experts said.
The house, on Ridgerock Drive in St. Ives subdivision, is priced to sell at $669,000, or $95,000 below appraisal, according to the Realtor’s description. Matthew and Gail Palmgren purchased the home in 2009 for $550,000, records show.
Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office investigators have not ruled her disappearance as foul play. A search at the couple’s lake home in Alabama — approved by Matthew Palmgren — is pending.
Jeanne Trewhitt, the listed agent for Prudential Realty, declined to comment. The ad states: “The seller will consider all offers.”
Lee Davis, an attorney who represents Matthew Palmgren, issued a statement when asked about the sale.
“Matthew Palmgren is doing what he can to hold his family together under the strain he has been under since Gail left their two children with him and drove away from their home in April,” the statement read. “He is making decisions that are in the best interests of his children and for their welfare. Mr. Palmgren hopes that he will be able to continue to live in the area and have his children continue in schools where they currently are enrolled. Details about the Palmgren family and their personal property are private matters and we will not be commenting publicly on them.”
Matthew Palmgren was making about $286,000 a year at BlueCross in 2009, records show.
The couple have two children, a 9-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son.
Legal experts say Matthew Palmgren cannot legally sell the couple’s home because a copy of the deed to the home shows that both are listed as owners.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press obtained copies of the couple’s will as well as power of attorney documents drafted in LaGrange, Ky., in 2006. The couple lived in Kentucky at the time.
The will says that, in the event of Gail Palmgren’s death, everything belongs to her husband.
The power of attorney states that, in the event something happened to Gail Palmgren’s mental state, her husband would be able to sell property. However, in order for the document to take effect, doctors must sign off, stating Gail Palmgren is incapacitated, records state.
Fletcher Long, a Clarksville, Tenn., criminal defense attorney who has dealt with similar cases in the past, said someone could buy the home, but if Gail Palmgren shows up, the buyer would lose the house and the money paid for it.
“You’re gambling,” Long said. “I can sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. You are wagering the fact that I own it or have some interest in it.”
Long was a member of Perry March’s defense team nearly a decade ago in Nashville. March was convicted of slaying his wife, Janet Levine March, nearly 10 years after her disappearance. Her body was never found, and he was convicted on circumstantial evidence.
In Tennessee, a person can be declared legally dead if they are not heard from in seven years.
“We’re not even close to enough time [for that],” Long said. “He has to file a motion with the Probate Court to declare her dead. He could sell the property with a judicial determination she is dead.”
Another alternative is for Matthew Palmgren to file for divorce in Chancery Court or Civil Court. Gail Palmgren would be listed as a defendant in the case and, because she is missing, a legal notice would have to run in the newspaper for 30 days in an effort to notify her, said John Cavett, a local defense attorney.
As of Thursday afternoon, there were no filings in Chancery or Civil Court.