January 10, 2023
Gretchen Fleming went missing on December 4, 2022, after last being spotted at My Way Lounge and Restaurant in Parkersburg, West Virginia.
The last sighting of the 27 year old was at My Way Lounge and Restaurant in the early hours of the morning, around 3:10am, in the company of an older man, and she has not been seen since.
Her family reported her missing to police December 12 after she failed to contact them for several days. Gretchen did not stay in contact with her family daily, and it took several days for them to realise that she had not been responding to any calls, texts or social media messages from her friends.
Fleming forgot her personal belongings at one of the bars she went to that night, including her bag, with her cell phone and credit cards inside. She did not come back for them at any point.
According to Jake Grim, a friend of Fleming, Gretchen had been to several places that night, the last of which was The My Way Lounge, by which time it was already late and the bars in the area were closing up for the night.
At the time she went missing, Fleming was living in Vienna, West Virginia with her grandmother and working at the H&M clothing store in Grand Central Mall. She had recently moved in with her grandparents after relocating from North Carolina and had only had her job for a few weeks. Her friends describe her as a well spoken, well-travelled writer and musician who loves fashion and is very creative.
Surveillance cameras outside of the establishment captured Fleming and the older man leaving the bar together and walking in the direction of his vehicle. The footage did not show the pair getting into his car.
Fleming did not have a car of her own, and it has been reported that she got a ride there with someone else.
The lounge, which is located on Juliana Street, just a two minute drive from the river front, has fitted additional security cameras since Flemings disappearance for the protection of their customers.
Police identified and questioned the male and although his name had not been officially released to the public, he was considered a person of interest in the case. He was later identified as Preston Pierce, 55. WTAP reports that he has used the name Darrell Lott and at some point legally changed his name.
Lt. James Stalnaker of the Parkersburg Police told Fox News last month: "He is a person of interest in this investigation, we know she left with him. We believe that she traveled back to his residence with him. He’s given inconsistent statements."
Police say they do not believe that Pierce and Fleming knew each other prior to meeting that night at the bar.
According to Lt. Stalnaker, Pierce admitted that Gretchen Fleming was in his car at some point on the night she vanished, however, he maintains that she did not make it to his residence that night. Shortly after, he stopped talking to law enforcement.
A warrant was obtained by police to search his home and vehicle as well as his cell phone and other electronic devices and images of his vehicle were released to the public. Police are currently waiting for the results of forensic analysis of the potential evidence they have recovered.
Media outlets report that Pierce has a background in law enforcement, a career that he worked in for over a decade. He was last stationed at the Belington Police Department in Barbour County, Alabama. At the time of writing Pierce has not been charged with any crime.
Police put out a call for anyone with footage featuring a black Nissan Rogue from the Parkersburg area between the early hours of December 4, 2022 ,to midday December 5, 2022,. The vehicle is said to belong to Preston Pierce and several images have been provided to the public for identification purposes. A Darth Vader sticker on one side of the car and a small OBX sticker on the back of the vehicle can be seen. OBX is an acronym for "Outer Banks", referring to a series of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina.
Although investigators are working hard on locating Gretchen Fleming, it has been recently reported that they have requested the missing woman’s dental records from her family, in the event that a body is located.
Human remains were recently discovered in Ohio County near Sheller Lane in Elm Grove, and those following the case have speculated that they could be that of Gretchen Fleming.
Parkersburg Police have come out with a statement in response to the speculation and said that there is no evidence at this time to suggest the remains are those of Ms Fleming.
A reward for information pertaining to Flemings location was raised from $15,000 to $65,000.
She was 27 when she went missing, her 28th birthday passed on Christmas eve of 2022. She is described as 5”1 with brown hair and eyes, weighing around 110lbs.
Parkersburg Police Chief Matthew Board said: “People that have seen things, heard things or just think that something might help, they have not hesitated to reach out. There’s also been around the clock work for detectives to go through those leads. You have a young girl that nobody has heard from, nobody has seen, no social media activity. Things of that nature are very concerning.””
Those with any information on the case are urged to call Lead Detective James Zimmerman 304-424-1072 or 304-424-8444. After hours.
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